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Surah 2:249

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Eric

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Jan 6, 2002, 10:44:26 PM1/6/02
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"When Saul led his armies, he said: 'God will test
you by a stream. Whoever drinks its water will
not be of me; but those who do not drink shall be
on my side. The only exception will be those who
scoop up a palmful of water with their hands.' And
but for a few they all drank of its water. When
they had crossed it, and those who believed with
him, they said: 'We have no strength to combat
Goliath and his forces today.' But those who
believed they have to face their Lord, said:
'Many a time has a small band defeated a large
horde by the will of God. God is with those who
are patient (and persevere).'" Al-Qur'an Surah
2:249

"And the Lord said to Gideon, 'The people who are
with you are too many for Me to give the
Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim
glory for itself against Me, saying, "My own hand
has saved me." Now therefore, proclaim in the
hearing of the people, saying, "Whoever is fearful
and afraid let him turn and depart at once from
Mount Gilead."' And twenty-two thousand of the
people returned, and ten thousand remained. But
the Lord said to Gideon. 'The people are still
too many; bring them down to the water, and I will
test them for you there. Then it will be, that of
whom I say to you, "This one shall go with you,"
the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say
to you, "This one shall not go with you," the same
shall not go.' So he brought the people down to
the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, 'Everyone
who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog
laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise
everyone who gets down on their knees to drink.'
And the number of those who lapped, putting their
hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but
all the rest of the people got down on their knees
to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, 'By
the three hundred men who lapped I will save you,
and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let
all the other people go, every man to his place.'"
Judges 7:2-7

Let's ignore the fact that at first glance it
looks like the Muhammad tried to re-tell the story
from Judges and simply forgot some of the details.
Let's assume that Allah is telling us about a
similar but separate episode in history that
occurred during the reign of King Saul (even
though this is not mentioned in the Bible). I
just want to make a couple of comments and then
invite your comments on the similarities and
differences between these two passages.

The one striking similarity is obvious. God
tested the army of His people at the water based
on how they chose to take a drink.

The differences are more interesting. In the
Qur'an God told Saul, who proclaimed to all the
people, exactly what God required of those who
wanted to stay with the army. They must not take
a drink of water, or they must drink the water
from the palms of their hands. In Judges God
withheld even from Gideon the criteria for passing
His test until the test had been administered to
all the men. So in the Qur'an man decides who
will fight for God. In Judges God decides who
will fight for God.

The moral of the story in the Qur'an is that God
gives victory to those among His people who fight
with faith and courage, patience and perseverance.
The book of Judges acknowledges the faith and
courage of the men by revealing later on that He
has selected these 300 men to rout an army of
135,000 men (without so much as a fight). But the
moral of the story in Judges is that God gives
victory to His people because it pleases Him to do
so. So we come away from Judges with a much
grander view of the glory of God. Instead of
merely responding to our faith and courage,
patience and perseverance as is depicted in the
Qur'an, God also comes to our aid when we have no
faith and no courage (Gideon had a real problem
with cowardice, which is clear when you read the
story in its entirety); and by the demonstration
of God's own strong arm He inspires faith and
courage, patience and perseverance in us. It is a
dramatic Old Testament demonstration of God's
unmerited love and favor for us.

Altway

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Jan 7, 2002, 8:14:21 PM1/7/02
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"Eric" <jc...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:a1b5iq$5cq$1...@samba.rahul.net...
Quoting and comparing Quran 2:249 and OT Judges 7:2-7

> Let's ignore the fact that at first glance it
> looks like the Muhammad tried to re-tell the story
> from Judges and simply forgot some of the details.
> Let's assume that Allah is telling us about a
> similar but separate episode in history that
> occurred during the reign of King Saul (even
> though this is not mentioned in the Bible). I
> just want to make a couple of comments and then
> invite your comments on the similarities and
> differences between these two passages.

Comment:-
These are teaching stories with a message.
They can be changed according to what message is to be emphasized.
And the same techniques can be applied by others.
Saul may well have used the same test as was used by Gideon. But then
Saul already knew what the test was.

If you think one is a partial immitation of the other,
then you could say that the one in the Quran rectifies the one in the Bible.


> The differences are more interesting. In the
> Qur'an God told Saul, who proclaimed to all the
people, exactly what God required of those who
wanted to stay with the army. They must not take
a drink of water, or they must drink the water
from the palms of their hands. In Judges God
withheld even from Gideon the criteria for passing
His test until the test had been administered to
all the men. So in the Qur'an man decides who
will fight for God. In Judges God decides who
will fight for God.

Comment:-
The Quran differs from the OT and the NT in emphasising Truth, Knowledge,
Awareness.
God aready knows what human beings are like, but He tells Saul how to select
his army.

> The moral of the story in the Qur'an is that God
> gives victory to those among His people who fight
with faith and courage, patience and perseverance.
> The book of Judges acknowledges the faith and
> courage of the men by revealing later on that He
has selected these 300 men to rout an army of
> 135,000 men (without so much as a fight). But the
moral of the story in Judges is that God gives
victory to His people because it pleases Him to do
so. So we come away from Judges with a much
grander view of the glory of God. Instead of
merely responding to our faith and courage,
patience and perseverance as is depicted in the
Qur'an, God also comes to our aid when we have no
faith and no courage (Gideon had a real problem
with cowardice, which is clear when you read the
story in its entirety); and by the demonstration
of God's own strong arm He inspires faith and
courage, patience and perseverance in us. It is a
dramatic Old Testament demonstration of God's
unmerited love and favor for us.

Comment:-
You are, of course, telling us about your own impressions rather than what
the Scripture actually says. This is based on you previous acceptance of the
OT over the Quran. Those who accept the Quran over the OT can say that the
version in the Quran is superior to that in the OT.
But this is a futile attitude. The reader must have a positive receptive
mind in order to understand what he is reading.

In fact, the version in the Quran tells us about three kinds of people.
(1) A well disciplined force was required to overcome odds and there were
those who failed the requirements of discipline - they let their desires
overcome them.
(2) Even among those who were selected there were those who did not think
that they could defeat the enemy and yet were willing to sacrifice
themselves.
(3) There were those who understood that a small force could defeat a much
larger one if God was with them.
But if you read the next verses 2:250 you will see that they prayed to God
and strove for Him and God gave them victory.

God may certainly use some people against others and give them victory to
serve His purposes rather than to reward them. But if you think that God
does, or ought to, give victory to those who do not deserve it by faith and
striving, then of course, the whole point of the teachings in the scripture
is futile. Justice is an attribute of God, as is Love and Truth. (and what
people deserve is, of course, judged by God.)

--
Hamid S. Aziz
Understanding Islam
www.altway.freeuk.com


.

asimm...@yahoo.com

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Jan 8, 2002, 12:54:58 AM1/8/02
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> "And the Lord said to Gideon, 'The people who are
> with you are too many for Me to give the
> Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim
> glory for itself against Me, saying, "My own hand
> has saved me."

You have written in the end that the moral in the story of the Old
Testament is that God gives victory because he pleases to do so. Yet,
in the beginning sentence, it is implied God has narrowed down the
army with a 'jealous' motive. He did not want to grant victory to the
Israelites with such a number, lest Israel take all the glory for
itself.


>
> The moral of the story in the Qur'an is that God
> gives victory to those among His people who fight
> with faith and courage, patience and perseverance.

The Quran says in verse 251 "And if Allah had not repelled some men by
others the earth would have been filled with corruption and chaos.
But Allah is full of Bounty to All the Worlds." It also tells of
their dependence upon God as the condition for granting them victory.
There are multifold purposes of the Quranic narration.

But the
> moral of the story in Judges is that God gives
> victory to His people because it pleases Him to do
> so. So we come away from Judges with a much
> grander view of the glory of God.

I cannot see how your objection can even hold. The first verse tells
that the main purpose of the test was so that israel could not claim
all the glory to itself. It would have been well and simple to send
these 30000 soldiers and grant them victory. The Old Testament in
these verses give absolutely no indication as to testing the faith of
those in the army. It recounts the story with no moral impetus behind
it. The Quran relays the purpose of the test to determine who had the
necessary discipline and fortitude, thus Talut was testing who would
drink just enough water to keep them moving, and those that enjoyed
the fruits of the river by gulping and quenching to their
satisfaction. God grants victory, but that victory is conditional
upon work. It is not one of merely sitting back and relaxing,
expecting God's glory to descend.

The Quran is telling people that God's command is not arbitrary but is
full of wisdom. It is especially applicable in the context of the
Prophet's Companions, who were a small group that was founded based
upon the premise that they part of the movement to establish the will
of God on Earth. God was raising a group of people to give witness to
humanity the truth of Islam. They were being required to carry its
message to the globe, and it required displined and faithful
individuals. Thus, they were being tested and trained.

The verse also tell us that God is actively part of history purging
corruption and evil. If this were not the case, man would be in
ultimate misery. This is another moral aspect to the story.

I do not see how the contention is valid.

Peace be upon you

Saqib Virk

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Jan 10, 2002, 9:58:40 AM1/10/02
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"Eric" <jc...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:a1b5iq$5cq$1...@samba.rahul.net...
>
> "When Saul led his armies, he said: 'God will test
> you by a stream...'" Al-Qur'an Surah
> 2:249

SV
The Quran does not name Saul. It refers to Talut who many believe must have
been Saul. Personally, I believe Talut corresponds to Gideon.

> Let's ignore the fact that at first glance it
> looks like the Muhammad tried to re-tell the story
> from Judges and simply forgot some of the details.

SV
That notion strikes me as ludicrous and it shall be easy to ignore.

> Let's assume that Allah is telling us about a
> similar but separate episode in history that
> occurred during the reign of King Saul (even
> though this is not mentioned in the Bible).

SV
It would be much easier and more appropriate, in my opinion, to assume that
Talut was Gideon.

> The one striking similarity is obvious. God
> tested the army of His people at the water based
> on how they chose to take a drink.
> The differences are more interesting. In the
> Qur'an God told Saul, who proclaimed to all the
> people, exactly what God required of those who
> wanted to stay with the army. They must not take
> a drink of water, or they must drink the water
> from the palms of their hands. In Judges God
> withheld even from Gideon the criteria for passing
> His test until the test had been administered to
> all the men. So in the Qur'an man decides who
> will fight for God. In Judges God decides who
> will fight for God.

SV
How can you turn something so straight forward and obvious upside down?
According to the Bible Gideon had 10000 men with him. When they drank God
commanded Gideon to take with him only those men that had not drank like
dogs, lapping at the water with their tongues. That left only 300 men.

"So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him,
"Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those
who kneel down to drink." Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their
mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. The LORD said to
Gideon, "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the
Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.
(Judges 7:4-7)

It is interesting to note that a Companion of Prophet Muhammad said, "We
were 313 men in the Battle of Badr, and this number corresponds to the
number of men who followed Talut." (Tirmidhi, chapter on Siyar) This hadith
lends great support to the conclusion that Talut was no other than Gideon.

If the Bible is to be believed only 300 men out of ten thousand left to
fight because the others drank incorrectly even though they had not been
commanded or shown the correct way to drink. Does this event make any sense
at all?

According to the Quran, Talut (Gideon) commands the men to drink only a
small amount. Most do not follow the order and are left behind. This seems
to make sense in that men who cannot follow simple orders are useless and
even dangerous to have on your side when fighting battles. Self-control and
discipline are the keys to most success. The command to drink only a little
water makes sense as well since drinking too much water during periods of
great physical stress (such as before a battle) leads to cramping.

> The moral of the story in the Qur'an is that God
> gives victory to those among His people who fight
> with faith and courage, patience and perseverance.

The prayer of Talut and the men with him was:

"O, our Lord, pour forth steadfastness upon us and make our steps firm and
help us against the disbelieving people." [Quran 2:250]

It is obvious you have been reading too much nonsense at
answering-islam.org. I suggest you find some other source of information
before your capacity to think clearly is completely destroyed.
--
Wasalaam,
Saqib Virk


Eric

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Jan 10, 2002, 9:58:46 AM1/10/02
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> God may certainly use some people against others
and give them victory to
> serve His purposes rather than to reward them.
But if you think that God
> does, or ought to, give victory to those who do
not deserve it by faith and
> striving, then of course, the whole point of the
teachings in the scripture
> is futile. Justice is an attribute of God, as is
Love and Truth. (and what
> people deserve is, of course, judged by God.)

No, of course I do not pretend to know what God
should or should not do in any given situation.
But yes, I agree with you that God sometimes gives
victory to those who do not earn it by faith in
Him.

Listen, let me put it another way. In the Qur'an
God is not the active player. Saul, his men and
David are the active characters, and God comes
along and blesses what they do because they
believe in Him and work hard for the victory. In
Judges Allah is the central character. Allah is
the one that raises up Gideon. Allah is the one
that selects the 300 men. Allah is the one that
gives victory to the army before a single man ever
brandishes a sword. The story in Judges presents
a grander picture of Allah because it establishes
Allah as the central character initiating all the
action. The story in the Qur'an presents a
glorious, but less glorious picture of God;
because it presents Him as the one responding and
reacting to the faith of His people.

Are there other elements and aspects to both
stories? Yes. But these are the dominant themes.
If you dispute that, show me where I have missed
something.


M.S.M. Saifullah

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Jan 11, 2002, 8:23:36 AM1/11/02
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On 10 Jan 2002, Eric wrote:

> Listen, let me put it another way. In the Qur'an
> God is not the active player. Saul, his men and
> David are the active characters, and God comes
> along and blesses what they do because they
> believe in Him and work hard for the victory. In
> Judges Allah is the central character. Allah is

This is getting a little bit hilarious. In the Qur'an God is not the
active player: Where did you get that from? It is God who is narrating the
story and other characters are simply embedded speakers. Perhaps you
should read a little bit more about the dynamics of Qur'anic discourse in
"Discovering the Qur'an" by Neal Robinson.

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/


Altway

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Jan 11, 2002, 8:42:15 AM1/11/02
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"Eric" <jc...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:a1ka76$1fb$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> Listen, let me put it another way. In the Qur'an God is not the active
player.
Saul, his men and David are the active characters, and God comes
along and blesses what they do because they believe in Him and
work hard for the victory. In Judges Allah is the central character.
Allah is the one that raises up Gideon. Allah is the one that selects the
300 men.
Allah is the one that gives victory to the army before a single man ever
brandishes a sword. The story in Judges presents a grander picture of
Allah
because it establishes Allah as the central character initiating all the
action.
The story in the Qur'an presents a glorious, but less glorious picture of
God;
because it presents Him as the one responding and reacting to the faith of
His people.

Comment:-
I presume the above is addressed to me.

The whole Quran is about God. The verse 2:249 says "Allah will test you.."
How do you come to the conclusion that "God is not the active player"
But Allah works through people. They obtain their motives and power from
God.
In Islam man is an agent of God with responsibilities.
That seems to me to be the "grander" view of both God and man.

Your assessment about the relative merits of the story in Judges and the
Quran
is, of course your own. I do not see what you assert in the story in
Judges - i.e. that
God acted without or despite men.
What makes you think that "Allah is the one that gives victory to the army
before a single man ever brandishes a sword." Judges 7:7 says "The Lord
said unto Gideon: By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you and
deliver the Midianites into thind hand."

Your attitude appears to come from the Christian background which requires
that God should reward people without any effort on their part.

It seems to me that you will continue reading the Quran with an
unnecessarily biased mind.
You will not, therefore, see its contents and it will not do you much good.

Eric

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Jan 12, 2002, 4:50:20 AM1/12/02
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> You have written in the end that the moral in
the story of the Old
> Testament is that God gives victory because he
pleases to do so. Yet,
> in the beginning sentence, it is implied God has
narrowed down the
> army with a 'jealous' motive. He did not want
to grant victory to the
> Israelites with such a number, lest Israel take
all the glory for
> itself.

You and Hamid both are doing the same thing. You
are presenting things that compliment and
strengthen my point as if they were
contradictions. (The second sentence begins with
the word, "Yet," as if it were introducing a
contrary view.) So to the untrained or uncritical
eye it looks like you are making an argument,
stating a case, at my expense, when in reality you
are just confirming my point.

Yes, God had a jealous motive. From a Christian
perspective, God's ultimate, ulterior motive in
everything He does is to make Himself look good.
He created the heavens and the earth and all that
is in them to display His glory. When He acts on
behalf of Gideon and His men He does have a
"jealous" motive -- but it is HIS motive. He is
not responding to the faith of His people, but
rather acting on their behalf for His own
reasons -- because it pleases Him.


> The Quran says in verse 251 "And if Allah had
not repelled some men by
> others the earth would have been filled with
corruption and chaos.
> But Allah is full of Bounty to All the Worlds."
It also tells of
> their dependence upon God as the condition for
granting them victory.
> There are multifold purposes of the Quranic
narration.

Yes, once again, I am not saying that the lesson I
drew from the Qur'an precludes all other lessons.
God had His own purposes for giving Saul the
victory, just as it is also true that Gideon and
his men had to DO something to gain the victory.
But given the way the story is told in the Qur'an
what is the dominant theme? Just as you have
suggested, the dominant theme in the Qur'an is
that our complete dependence upon God is a
condition for His acting on our behalf. Given the
way the story is told in Judges, what is the
dominant theme? God acts in His time, in His way,
for His purposes, because it pleases Him to do so.


> I cannot see how your objection can even hold.

I am not aware of making any "objection." An
observation or two and an impression -- these I
have offered. I tried to be very careful not to
present the Qur'an's story in any negative light,
while at the same time showing why the Qur'an's
light, in this case, is less bright than the Old
Testament's.


> The first verse tells
> that the main purpose of the test was so that
israel could not claim
> all the glory to itself.

True. No objection.


> It would have been well and simple to send
> these 30000 soldiers and grant them victory.

It would have been comparatively simpler. The
odds would have been 4.5 to 1 against Gideon, as
opposed to 450 to 1. No objection.

(Where do you get the 30,000 soldiers figure? I
cannot find it in or calculate it from the text?
Although it seems like a very good guess.)


> The Old Testament in
> these verses give absolutely no indication as to
testing the faith of
> those in the army. It recounts the story with
no moral impetus behind
> it.

There is no way I could possibly agree with you
more completely!!! That is precisely the point!!!
This is what makes the story from Judges more
grand than the story from the Qur'an.
Hypothetically speaking, if you need me to do
something for you, and in order to get it you do
what pleases me, and then I give it to you; that
is wonderful and good. But so what!!! You have
done the right thing by pleasing me. I have done
the right thing by rewarding you. That is good,
but it is also ordinary. Does it inspire you?
Does it bring you joy to read about it? No!

But if you need something from me, and for
whatever reason I act on your behalf before you do
anything that pleases me; this inspires love and
gratitude. This is the only difference we are
talking about between these two stories!


> The Quran relays the purpose of the test to
determine who had the
> necessary discipline and fortitude, thus Talut
was testing who would
> drink just enough water to keep them moving, and
those that enjoyed
> the fruits of the river by gulping and quenching
to their
> satisfaction.

I'm sorry, but that meaning is NOT found anywhere
in the text of the Qur'an. The purpose behind the
test is left completely unexplained and must be
guessed at. You have made a fine inference, and I
do not dispute it, but the Qur'an does absolutely
NOTHING to relay that meaning to us. Now, I'm
sure someone will tell me that the meaning is
clear in Arabic, but if that is the case then it
should be possible to transmit that meaning into
other languages. Don't tell me about what your
book can do, show me.


> God grants victory, but that victory is
conditional
> upon work. It is not one of merely sitting back
and relaxing,
> expecting God's glory to descend.

Again, this is all well and good, and certainly it
is sometimes true. Yes, our efforts to please God
are good, necessary and sometimes inspiring. But
it is far more inspiring to see God not merely
sitting back and waiting for us to come to Him,
but sometimes reaching out and picking us up when
we are so confused by our circumstances that we
can't tell which way up is. This is the portrayal
of God in Judges. Is there anything similar
anywhere in the Qur'an?

Every time a Muslim hears a Christian talk about
the glories of God's grace, he assumes that the
Christian is saying that striving to live
righteously does not matter. It does matter. It
matters tremendously. It is an expression of that
love and gratitude that God's mercy and grace
inspires. If we fail to live righteously we have
been ungrateful and that is a sin, and an insult
to God.


> The Quran is telling people that God's command
is not arbitrary but is
> full of wisdom.

I'm not sure which "command" you are referring to
here. If you are talking about the testing at the
water, that command most certainly was arbitrary.
Why? When God revealed to the people the criteria
for passing or failing the test, it ceased to be a
test and whatever meaning might have been there
before. Let us assume that what you say is true,
and God wanted to see which men would merely
satisfy their thirst and which men would gulp the
water. A person's decision in this regard could
be taken as a reflection on their character, but
only until the criteria for passing or failing has
been revealed. Afterward, whatever action they
take is a reflection, not of their character, but
of their decision to stay with Saul or leave him.
Some of those who might have drunk sparingly
before out of respect for their comrades, will now
jump in with both feet to avoid the hardships of
war.

God would have accomplished the same result that
He got in the Qur'anic story if He had simply
followed His own law (Deut 20:5-8) and told
everyone with new houses, new vineyards, new
wives, or fear in their hearts to go home.
Because in effect what God did do in the Qur'anic
story is release anyone who for whatever reason
did not want to stay and fight.

But if you are speaking in more general terms then
I generally agree. It is important for us to
believe that God is not capricious. But a person
can be wise, and not be good. Then their wisdom
becomes a craftiness that works to our detriment.
And even if God is not arbitrary, it does not mean
we should expect to always understand His
purposes. So although it is important to know
that God is wise and not arbitrary, it is better
to know that He is good.

Thank you for writing. God bless you.


asimm...@yahoo.com

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Jan 12, 2002, 4:50:32 AM1/12/02
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> Listen, let me put it another way. In the Qur'an
> God is not the active player.

Your attempts to try and prove the 'superiority' of the Old Testament
account to the Quran is undoubtedly strange, besides its meeting with
failure.

The Quran is actually giving credit to God. "God is full of
compassion to all the worlds." The whole narration is about the ease
and miraculousness of the victory, but at the same time giving the
moral lessons behind it. Among these lessons are how does one gain
God's help, and how God plays an active part in history by checking
injust nations with other nations to prevent misery, chaos, and
anarchy from overspreading the Earth. They are referring to various
aspects of the law of God.

Nowhere in here is the Quran denying this victory as being a blessing.


The story in the Qur'an presents a
> glorious, but less glorious picture of God;
> because it presents Him as the one responding and
> reacting to the faith of His people.
>

So what you are implying is that God's actions are arbitrary in the
Old Testament? He grants victory in a ho-di-dum manner? This is
where your attempts lead you.

Nowhere is it seen that God is merely responding or reacting. Your
reading into things that are not there. The mere fact that Gop is
communicating with HIs Prophet is proof that God is active. But you
still have not explained:

God saying his purpose of narrowing down the army is that he does not
want Israel to take the glory all for itself? The story says God
narrowed down the army based upon jealousy. This is an arbitrary act
if anything, and has no relevance to those who are sincere. So what
was the purpose of the test ion the Old Testament, and how did God
choose who would be granted victory? Random selection. Is this a
more glorious picture of God?

Please explain this more glorious picture of God before even going
into your other objections which lack validity.


Eric

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 4:50:36 AM1/12/02
to
> Comment:-

> The whole Quran is about God. The verse 2:249 says "Allah will test you.."
> How do you come to the conclusion that "God is not the active player"

Yes, I agree with you. Allah is a player in the story. But in my opinion
He is not the central player. That is my opinion based on the fact that in
2:249 and following everyone who wanted to fight had the opportunity to stay
and fight. Is that not an accurate picture? In Judges there was a group of
10,000 men (my apologies to anyone who saw this figure, which I failed to
see earlier) willing to fight, and God selected only 300 of them in a
relatively arbitrary manner. (Arbitrary in the sense that how one chooses
to drink water, may say something, but actually says very little about how
qualified you are to fight.)

And in Judges God's motive for giving the victory was His own. Yes, he
required a certain level of obedience from Israel. But God was not
following and responding to the obedience. He was very clearly prompting it
because He had an agenda. In the Qur'an you have the opposite picture. The
people are going to war (presumably in the cause of Allah) and because they
are faithful and so forth, God blesses them with victory.

Yes, my opinion that the picture in Judges presents God in a greater
light -- that is my own opinion. But my opinion that in the Qur'an God is
responding to the faithfulness of the people, while in Judges God is the
proactive, central character of the story -- that opinion is supported by
any objective examination of the text. And you can't pretend that the
simple statement "Allah will test you..." places Him in the center of the
whole narrative.


> They obtain their motives and power from God.

I think this is a very interesting statement. Is it true that people obtain
their motives from God? Is this a Muslim perspective? (Hopefully this
doesn't sound like I'm throwing down a challenge. It is just that such a
statement sounds more in line with Christian ideas on predestination than
anything I have heard or read about Islam. I have much to learn and would
be interested in hearing more about this.)


> In Islam man is an agent of God with responsibilities.
> That seems to me to be the "grander" view of both God and man.
>
> Your assessment about the relative merits of the story in Judges and the
> Quran
> is, of course your own. I do not see what you assert in the story in
> Judges - i.e. that
> God acted without or despite men.

I'm sorry you are misunderstanding my assertion, but I cannot help but think
this might be deliberate. God clearly acted with Gideon and His 300 men.
The distinction is that God was the initiator of the action. His motives
for acting were His own motives. That is not the same thing as suggesting
that He actually acted alone, although the thrust of the way the story is
told gives the reader that impression (I think by design of the
author/Author(?).


> What makes you think that "Allah is the one that gives victory to the
army
> before a single man ever brandishes a sword." Judges 7:7 says "The Lord
> said unto Gideon: By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you and
> deliver the Midianites into thind hand."

If you read further down you see that the men carried lanterns or torches
concealed in clay jars. They also carried trumpets. On Gideon's signal
they broke the jars, holding forth the light; and blew the trumpets. Unless
these men had three arms they were not "brandishing," i.e. holding their
swords. And it was at this point that the camp of the enemy was thrown into
confusion and defeated as if by God. Eventually Israel pursued the enemy,
but the victory was already theirs -- a gift from God.


> Your attitude appears to come from the Christian background which requires
> that God should reward people without any effort on their part.

My perspective is no doubt a Christian one. But I'm afraid you
misunderstand and misstate the Christian perspective just a little bit.
There is only one thing that we cannot ever possibly earn. That is
salvation, or in other words, a place in heaven. We can certainly earn
victory on the field of battle, and that certainly can come with God's
assistance to varying degrees. So we are not "required" to think that God
will reward people for their lack of effort. We are encouraged to think
that if God rewards us it is despite the shortcomings in our efforts --
because to think otherwise is to indulge in pride. This may seem to a
Muslim like a strange tight-rope to try tip-toeing across. But we do it
because it encourages an attitude of love and thankfulness toward God. I
know Muslims also appreciate that virtue, you just use other methods to get
there.


> It seems to me that you will continue reading the Quran with an
> unnecessarily biased mind.
> You will not, therefore, see its contents and it will not do you much
good.

My mind is biased which is precisely why I am here. I believe Islam does
violence (figuratively speaking) to the doctrines of Christianity, but I
need to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of all that. I don't
want to be in a position of telling a Muslim I reject the message of his
faith, without even knowing why.

I hope that my posts are not too antagonistic or unnecessarily provocative.

God bless you, Hamid.

Eric Matthaei

Eric

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 4:50:46 AM1/12/02
to
> This is getting a little bit hilarious. In the Qur'an God is not the
> active player: Where did you get that from? It is God who is narrating the
> story and other characters are simply embedded speakers. Perhaps you
> should read a little bit more about the dynamics of Qur'anic discourse in
> "Discovering the Qur'an" by Neal Robinson.

Thank you for the recommendation on the article (or book?). I'll try to
look into that.

You say that God is the narrator of the Qur'anic discourse. Please answer
this question. Are you a character in all the stories that you tell? Is it
not possible that God could tell us a story about others, in which He
himself is not visible as a character at all? If He cannot tell any stories
except stories that He is in (which clearly is not the case), why can I do
it, though He cannot?

God is a character in 2:249, but I cannot see how He could be perceived as
the central character (or active player) of the story. And this (by itself)
would not make it a poor story, or a poor reflection of His glory. But when
you compare it to a somewhat similar story where God IS the central
character, the superstar, if you will... Well, I don't know what to make of
it. Are there any stories from the Qur'an where God is the central
character, or is He always in the background rewarding or punishing us
according to our deeds?

If you disagree perhaps there is a reason? Please show me from the text,
why I should say that God played a central role, rather than a peripheral
responsive role in the course of this particular subplot.

God bless you. Thanks for writing.

Eric Matthaei

Eric

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 5:06:08 AM1/12/02
to
> SV
> The Quran does not name Saul. It refers to Talut who many believe must
have
> been Saul. Personally, I believe Talut corresponds to Gideon.

I would think that a faithful Muslim would very carefully avoid any
association between Talut and Gideon, simply because that lends credence to
the notion that this particular story is patterned after the one in the
Bible, which in turn would weaken the Qur'an's claim to divine authorship.


> > So in the Qur'an man decides who
> > will fight for God. In Judges God decides who
> > will fight for God.
>
> SV
> How can you turn something so straight forward and obvious upside down?
> According to the Bible Gideon had 10000 men with him. When they drank God
> commanded Gideon to take with him only those men that had not drank like
> dogs, lapping at the water with their tongues. That left only 300 men.

Uh, yes. Exactly. What got turned upside down?

(Thanks for pointing out the 10,000 men. The first time I looked for that I
missed it.)


> It is interesting to note that a Companion of Prophet Muhammad said, "We
> were 313 men in the Battle of Badr, and this number corresponds to the
> number of men who followed Talut." (Tirmidhi, chapter on Siyar) This
hadith
> lends great support to the conclusion that Talut was no other than Gideon.

Again, you are only eroding my confidence in the Qur'an's claim to divine
origin. Judges was written much closer to the actual events (probably at
least 1,000 years closer), and by an Israelite (it was a part of the history
of the human author's nation). The Qur'an comes along and repeats some key
details (the drinking test, the identity of the leader(?), but omits others
(the direct call for the fainthearted to go home), and contradicts still
more (Surah 2:250 portrays the fight as being against the Philistines -- not
the Midianites, and places David and Goliath and in the middle of the fight
even though they were not contemporaries of Gideon in the Bible account).


> If the Bible is to be believed only 300 men out of ten thousand left to
> fight because the others drank incorrectly even though they had not been
> commanded or shown the correct way to drink. Does this event make any
sense
> at all?

Oh yes! It fits the theme of the story beautifully. In fact, it defines
the theme of the story in that short part of it I quoted. The victory that
God is going to bring over the Midianites is not going to be Israel's
victory. It will belong to God alone. Yes, Israel will share in it through
their obedience, but it is God who raises up reluctant Gideon, it is God who
selects the 300 men by His own hand, and it is God who delivers the victory
before the 300 draw their swords! The message of the story might still get
across if one of these three elements were altered, so as to make man the
central player. But the message would be weakened. So in light of the
story's message the methodology you describe here is the only one that makes
sense.


> According to the Quran, Talut (Gideon) commands the men to drink only a
> small amount. Most do not follow the order and are left behind. This seems
> to make sense in that men who cannot follow simple orders are useless and
> even dangerous to have on your side when fighting battles. Self-control
and
> discipline are the keys to most success. The command to drink only a
little
> water makes sense as well since drinking too much water during periods of
> great physical stress (such as before a battle) leads to cramping.

This makes a lot of sense. But the text does not portray Talut's words as a
command. It portrays them as if he is offering the men a choice. If it is
a choice, using the method of drinking as a "test" makes no sense, but if it
is a command, then given the right circumstances it could make a lot of
sense. Thanks.


> > The moral of the story in the Qur'an is that God
> > gives victory to those among His people who fight
> > with faith and courage, patience and perseverance.
>
> The prayer of Talut and the men with him was:
>
> "O, our Lord, pour forth steadfastness upon us and make our steps firm and
> help us against the disbelieving people." [Quran 2:250]

This prayer supports my conclusion about the main lesson we are to take from
the Qur'anic story. This is a prayer for Allah to bless OUR efforts against
the enemy based on the fact that we believe and they do not believe. And
this is not a bad lesson in and of itself. But I still prefer the beauty of
God's unmerited favor to the beauty of God's merited favor.

A God who loves us enough to help us when we don't deserve it, perhaps loves
us more than a God who helps us only after we have earned it. (That's just
my opinion; don't jump all over it.) There is also much beauty to be found
in God dealing with us justly. But is that more beautiful than God dealing
with us mercifully? I think one must have a very high opinion of his own
righteousness to answer affirmatively.


> It is obvious you have been reading too much nonsense at
> answering-islam.org. I suggest you find some other source of information
> before your capacity to think clearly is completely destroyed.

I have visited that website once or twice, but I really don't spend any time
there unless a link from this newsgroup points out something of particular
interest. The same is true of websites supporting the Islamic world view --
although I bookmark more of those. I would much rather read our
conversations in this forum than the stuff that other people write in
articles.

So in what way is it obvious that I have been reading too much at
answering-islam.org? Because I assure you that despite an occasional visit
to the site, I have never knowingly written anything in this forum based on
something found there. Your unfortunate oversight in this regard should not
be taken by anyone as a reflection on your capacity for rational thought.

God bless you, Saifullah. :)

Eric


asimm...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jan 13, 2002, 3:00:09 AM1/13/02
to
> Yes, God had a jealous motive. From a Christian
> perspective, God's ultimate, ulterior motive in
> everything He does is to make Himself look good.

God narrowed down the number of the people in the army in an arbitrary
manner because of his jealousy. This implies that sincere people were
left out based upon the motive that these people would claim victory
for themselves. Is that a glorious picture? Does that make him look
good? Is this the grand master plan you are talking about. So those
that wanted to be part of the victory were left out based upon the
motive that God feared that they would take glory for themselves. How
strange.

>From a Muslim perspective, God's motive is always good. God is always
good, it is a matter of just recognizing it. What's your point? That
still does not answer the contention.

> He created the heavens and the earth and all that
> is in them to display His glory. When He acts on
> behalf of Gideon and His men He does have a
> "jealous" motive -- but it is HIS motive. He is
> not responding to the faith of His people, but
> rather acting on their behalf for His own
> reasons -- because it pleases Him.
>

So his actions are arbitrary? Is that the grand picture of God, that
narrows down an army despite the fact that some may be sincere in the
army. Or will you just reply that we do not understand His reasons?
Is that the ultimate good that you were talking about? That the glory
of God may be reduced because of the victory of the Israelites with a
larger number.

The command of jihad or the war was an act directed by God. Those
that participated in it was because of God's directive. Not their own
motive. Your comments are irrelevant and pointless.


>
> Yes, once again, I am not saying that the lesson I
> drew from the Qur'an precludes all other lessons.
> God had His own purposes for giving Saul the
> victory, just as it is also true that Gideon and
> his men had to DO something to gain the victory.
> But given the way the story is told in the Qur'an
> what is the dominant theme? Just as you have
> suggested, the dominant theme in the Qur'an is
> that our complete dependence upon God is a
> condition for His acting on our behalf. Given the
> way the story is told in Judges, what is the
> dominant theme? God acts in His time, in His way,
> for His purposes, because it pleases Him to do so.
>

Who said it was the dominant theme and who suggested it was the
dominant theme? The Old Testament is narrating it as history. Where
is the moral nature of the story? You haven't given it but made your
own conculsions and projected them into the Quran.

What you have argued is that God argues in an arbitray manner.

>
> > I cannot see how your objection can even hold.
>
> I am not aware of making any "objection." An
> observation or two and an impression -- these I
> have offered.

Objection, impression its the same? Don't play on words.

>
> It would have been comparatively simpler. The
> odds would have been 4.5 to 1 against Gideon, as
> opposed to 450 to 1. No objection.
>
> (Where do you get the 30,000 soldiers figure? I
> cannot find it in or calculate it from the text?
> Although it seems like a very good guess.)
>

You still don't get it do you? You've made your argument even more
insignfiicant. Could such a small insignifcant number effect the
glory of God, or does this indicate nit-picking. Is this the nature
of God's glory in the Old Testament that you claimed was more holy
than the Quran?


>
> There is no way I could possibly agree with you
> more completely!!! That is precisely the point!!!
> This is what makes the story from Judges more
> grand than the story from the Qur'an.
> Hypothetically speaking, if you need me to do
> something for you, and in order to get it you do
> what pleases me, and then I give it to you; that
> is wonderful and good. But so what!!! You have
> done the right thing by pleasing me. I have done
> the right thing by rewarding you. That is good,
> but it is also ordinary. Does it inspire you?
> Does it bring you joy to read about it? No!
>

You seem to think that the work one does to please God is significant
to the reward given by him. Your going from a totally strange
perspective.

You cannot even see the context of your post. The narration of the
story is to prove that God acts in the world, but he doesnot act to an
arbitrary choice. God granted victory to the people of Israel because
they were His people, i.e. sincere and hard working, despite the
numbers.

So what you are saying is that who cares about effort made by the
people? God will help us despite how we act? Ah, that means Gods
projection is greater. "Do they think that they will enter Paradise
and not be tested?"

> But if you need something from me, and for
> whatever reason I act on your behalf before you do
> anything that pleases me; this inspires love and
> gratitude. This is the only difference we are
> talking about between these two stories!
>

First of all, the Old Testament is narrating the victory granted to
His people because of there being his followers, i.e. his people,
doing his commands. Obviously with one person's victory comes another
person's loss. So what about these people that were destroyed? Was
it because they were arrogant idol-worshippers or it was because God
merely wanted to destroy these people?

>
> I'm sorry, but that meaning is NOT found anywhere
> in the text of the Qur'an. The purpose behind the
> test is left completely unexplained and must be
> guessed at.

It is not to be guessed at. The next verse indicates the purpose of
it. When an army marches it gets thirsty and tired. Thus when they
approach a river they normally drink to quench their thirst. The
Quran indicates the nature of the test through what the test itself
is. Whether or not you can see it is your thing? But this is not
something of 'gussing'? Explaining is left to clarify a point if
somebody cannot understand it?

>
> Again, this is all well and good, and certainly it
> is sometimes true. Yes, our efforts to please God
> are good, necessary and sometimes inspiring. But
> it is far more inspiring to see God not merely
> sitting back and waiting for us to come to Him,
> but sometimes reaching out and picking us up when
> we are so confused by our circumstances that we
> can't tell which way up is. This is the portrayal
> of God in Judges. Is there anything similar
> anywhere in the Qur'an?
>

Let me see. The Quran says that He sent a Prophet to the people who
were on the brink of fire and saved them. The Quran says victory is
granted by him alone. The Quran says that God is independent
throughout the worlds. But this is irrelevant, your objection does
not hold.

> Every time a Muslim hears a Christian talk about
> the glories of God's grace, he assumes that the
> Christian is saying that striving to live
> righteously does not matter. It does matter. It
> matters tremendously. It is an expression of that
> love and gratitude that God's mercy and grace
> inspires. If we fail to live righteously we have
> been ungrateful and that is a sin, and an insult
> to God.
>

Who is saying that? Once again your making general comments that are
baseless.
The Christian creed is based upon the concept of original sin, i.e.
there is nothing that man could do that could cause him to receive the
grace of God, because man by nature was evil.

>
> > The Quran is telling people that God's command
> is not arbitrary but is
> > full of wisdom.
>
> I'm not sure which "command" you are referring to
> here. If you are talking about the testing at the
> water, that command most certainly was arbitrary.
> Why? When God revealed to the people the criteria
> for passing or failing the test, it ceased to be a
> test and whatever meaning might have been there
> before.


If I say you will come across an army of three thousand and you must
fight them and be victoprious to prove yourself as the king, does the
action cease to be a test? Your arguments are pointless.

The test was a test of discipline and obedience.

Let us assume that what you say is true,
> and God wanted to see which men would merely
> satisfy their thirst and which men would gulp the
> water. A person's decision in this regard could
> be taken as a reflection on their character, but
> only until the criteria for passing or failing has
> been revealed.

Why? If I tell you after carrying your arms for miles, and anybody
knows the difficulties of marching when the sun is blasting on you,
and you have been expelled from your homes, that when you approach the
river not to drink except a little, does the test become negated? So
what yopu are saying tests in college are pointless because we already
know that we have to at least get a C to pass? Hey, knwoping the
criteria to pass invalidates the test! I never knew that. What about
a test that nobody even knows the criteria? If they fail they must
not be blameworthy. Strange I must say.


Afterward, whatever action they
> take is a reflection, not of their character, but
> of their decision to stay with Saul or leave him.
> Some of those who might have drunk sparingly
> before out of respect for their comrades, will now
> jump in with both feet to avoid the hardships of
> war.
>

Let me see. In army that is carrying weapons, is tired and thirsty
and has been marching for days? Then God tells that after they come
to the river and cross to fight. There is nothing that indicates from
the text itself that they could jump in the water. Like I said, your
forcing your opinions on the text and than objecting to your own
opinions.


> But if you are speaking in more general terms then
> I generally agree. It is important for us to
> believe that God is not capricious. But a person
> can be wise, and not be good. Then their wisdom
> becomes a craftiness that works to our detriment.

Wisdom is understanding, not craftiness. Morality is wisdom. Your
talking about soemthing else. Wisdom means doing things with a good
purpose. Otherwise it is not wisdom.

> And even if God is not arbitrary, it does not mean
> we should expect to always understand His
> purposes. So although it is important to know
> that God is wise and not arbitrary, it is better
> to know that He is good.
>

That is irrelevant. God already decalred his purpose in the Old
Testament. To save his glory from the claims of maybe a 4000 number
army.


M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 7:04:50 AM1/14/02
to
On 12 Jan 2002, Eric wrote:

> You say that God is the narrator of the Qur'anic discourse. Please answer
> this question. Are you a character in all the stories that you tell? Is it
> not possible that God could tell us a story about others, in which He
> himself is not visible as a character at all? If He cannot tell any stories
> except stories that He is in (which clearly is not the case), why can I do
> it, though He cannot?

Before you make statements and ask questions on this newsgroup it is a
good idea to read the basics of Islam and Qur'an. The Qur'an is the Word
of God and the characters in the stories where the narrative is there are
embedded speakers. The story does develop with comments from God such as
"thus we reward the righteous" suggesting that even in the future the
righteous would be rewarded the same way as it happening in the past. The
comment by God in the narrative is one of the important stylistic features
of Qur'anic discourse where the narrator and the listener are engaged.

As far as the issue of God being "not" there in the story, sorry, we do
not believe that God is unaware of what happened in the past and neither
He is unaware of what will happen in the future. The famous "Throne Verse"
in the Qur'an which is recited by Muslims before going to the bed is one
such good example of God's knowledge of the past and future.

> God is a character in 2:249, but I cannot see how He could be perceived as
> the central character (or active player) of the story. And this (by itself)
> would not make it a poor story, or a poor reflection of His glory. But when
> you compare it to a somewhat similar story where God IS the central
> character, the superstar, if you will... Well, I don't know what to make of
> it. Are there any stories from the Qur'an where God is the central
> character, or is He always in the background rewarding or punishing us
> according to our deeds?

I think you are confused here. I said the Qur'an is the Word of God and
the narratives employ the embedded speakers such as the one that you had
mentioned. We are not talking about the "characters" of the story or a
narrative, who are nothing but slaves of God, they are rewarded for good
and punished for evil they commit, unless of course, they repent.

As far as the various aspects of Qur'anic narrative is concerned such as
the use of "We", "I" and "Me" by God and the literary aspects associated
with it, they can be read at:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Grammar/iltifaat.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Grammar/robinson.html

The use of "We", "I" and "Me" by God and its reasons in verbal
communication is perhaps best summed by Neal Robinson.

"If, as the evidence examined so far seems to suggest, the implied speaker
of the Qur'an is God, why then does He employ both 'We' and 'He' as
self-designations? Moreover, when He employs the first-person-plural mode,
why does He sometimes refer to Himself as 'thy Lord' rather than ' simply
as 'Us'? Over thirty years ago, Roman Jakobson wrote an essay on
linguistics and poetics which, although it does not mention the Qur'an,
throws light on these questions. Jakobson states that verbal communication
may be primarily expressive, conative or cognitive. Expressive
communication centres on the speaker; conative communication centres on
the addressee; and cognitive communication centres on the message. The
Qur'anic discourse moves to and fro between these three functions. When
the speaker employs oaths or designates Himself as 'We' or 'I', the
function of the discourse is expressive. When the speaker employs the
vocative particle 'O', refers to the addressee as 'thou' or 'you', or
issues commands, the function of the discourse is conative. This is also
the case when He refers to Himself as 'thy Lord', for in so doing he
reminds the addressee of his subordination to and obligation towards the
speaker. Finally, when the speaker refers to Himself as 'He', or 'Allah',
or mentions one or more of His names, the function of the discourse is
cognitive. This function is vital in a Scripture which is intended as a
message for humankind. For if God had restricted Himself to expressive or
conative communication, there would have been no universal message, no
statements about Him which human beings could reiterate.

The conative function of communication is also to the fore when the
implied speaker refers to himself as 'thy Lord' while speaking to the
priviledged addressee. The priviledged addressee is usually Muhammad, but
there are a few passages where 'thou' is used when addressing humankind or
the typical behaviour. In practice the distinction is relatively
unimportant, because the believer rightly senses that the message first
vouchsafed to Muhammad is also addressed personally to him."

Neal Robinson, Discovering The Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach To A Veiled
Text, 1996, SCM Press Ltd.).

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/


Altway

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 7:05:20 AM1/14/02
to
"Eric" <eric...@swbell.net> wrote in message
news:a1p0tc$svt$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> > The whole Quran is about God. The verse 2:249 says "Allah will test
you.."
> > How do you come to the conclusion that "God is not the active player"

> In Judges there was a group of 10,000 men (my apologies to anyone who


saw this figure,
> which I failed to see earlier) willing to fight, and God selected only
300 of them in a
relatively arbitrary manner. (Arbitrary in the sense that how one chooses
to drink water, may say something, but actually says very little about how
qualified you are to fight.)

Comment:-
I can see we will have unending arguments owing to a difference of attitude
and perception.
In truth I do not think it is worth replying.
But I will confine myself to pointing out what had already been stated,
answering some question assuming they are genuine
and perhaps for the benefit of others..

(1) The selection of the 300 was not arbitrary as you say. We do not think
Allah acts
arbitrarily but with Truth and Wisdom.
The test selected those who were well disciplined and had faith and control
over themselves.

(2) God is shown throughout the Quran as having a plan and man is required
to follow this.
The Prophets are sent by God and obey God's instructions.
It is God who instructed Talut (Saul or Gideon) to fight.

(3) Yes, Predetermination is taught in Islam. Allah has a plan and none can
thwart it.
People merely benefit or harm themselves according to how they relate to the
plan.
This is also predetermined.

(4) Human beings have the spirit of God in them (15:29, 32:9). When this is
active as in the Prophets, Messengers and saints then they are agents of
God - God does the work through them.

But the original creative force of God goes through several levels and
produces all the other forces. There are, for instance, psychological,
physiological, social, biological, electromagnetic, electronic, chemical,
gravitational, mechanical etc forces. The behaviour of man is affected by
all these forces. If he does not function at the higher spiritual level then
he has "fallen" to a lower level where these lower mundane forces take
control.

(5) The story in Judges 7 tells us that a strategy was used by Gideon and
his men -
They made a lot of frightening noise by holding flames,blowing trumpets and
breaking pitchers and shouting "The sword of the Lord". "And all the hosts
ran and cried and fled."
So was it these actions which led to victory or was it the fact that God
instructed them to do this and they carried it out?

(6) Muslims do not think we can obtain salvation by our own unaided efforts
but
>from faith and obedience to God. Egotism is abolished and humility is
incorporated in the
the very name Islam (Surrender to Allah) and Muslim (one who surrenders to
Allah.)
The acceptance and practice of Islam is incopatible with egotism (which is
the characteristic of Satan)

This agrees with the teachings of Jesus also:-
"Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven, but He THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. Many
will say to me in that Day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophecied in thy name?
and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful
works? And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: DEPART FROM ME,
YE THAT WORK INIQUITY." Matthew 7:21-23

"And this is Eternal Life that they might know THEE THE ONLY TRUE GOD... and
Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent." John 17:3

"While I was with them in the world I kept them in THY NAME..." John 17:12

""But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship
the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worhip Him."
John 4:23

"I can of mine own self do nothing: As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is
just because I SEEK NOT MINE OWN WILL, but the WILL OF THE FATHER which
hath sent me." John 6:30

"..I do nothing of myself; but as the Father hath taught me, I speak these
things." John 8:28


> And in Judges God's motive for giving the victory was His own. Yes, he
> required a certain level of obedience from Israel. But God was not
following and responding to the obedience. He was very clearly prompting
it
because He had an agenda. In the Qur'an you have the opposite picture.
The
people are going to war (presumably in the cause of Allah) and because they
are faithful and so forth, God blesses them with victory.

> > They obtain their motives and power from God.

--

Eric

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 7:05:33 AM1/14/02
to
> Your attempts to try and prove the 'superiority'
of the Old Testament
> account to the Quran is undoubtedly strange,
besides its meeting with
> failure.

I am not trying to *prove* the superiority of the
Old Testament to the Qur'an. If there is anything
I am trying to "prove," you might say that I'm
trying to prove that the morals I found in the
story are the primary lessons each story teaches.
The Qur'an presents a story where the people go
out and fight the unbelievers and God blesses
their effort. The Bible presents a story where
God raises up the army and then whittles it down
until the odds are 450 to 1, and then God wins the
victory. If anyone disputes that things might get
interesting, but no one has actually presented a
contrary opinion. Several of you have presented
complimentary views as if you thought they were
contradictory.

I think once you accept the fact that the two
stories are following plot lines like the two I
summarized above, then generally see the lessons I
presented as valid lessons to be taken from the
texts. My objective has not been to discredit the
Qur'an. That would be fools errand, particularly
in the company of believers. I have simply
presented my opinion that given the choice between
the God found in the Qur'an's portrait and the God
found in Judges' portrait, I will always choose
the Bible's portrayal. Because God's unmerited
favor towards me is more gracious and beautiful
than God's merited favor. I have always carefully
avoided saying anything derogatory against the
lesson and portrait of God found in the Qur'an.
In fact, I have frequently said that the lesson
and portrait from the Qur'an is also beautiful, it
just isn't as beautiful as the other. It is you
and our other friends on this forum who have found
this derogatory. Why?


> The Quran is actually giving credit to God.
"God is full of
> compassion to all the worlds."

This phrase is absent from my translation, but I
can see how the clause, "But gracious is God to
the people of the world," might be rendered as you
have described here. Still, this is a truth that
describes the compassion God demonstrates by using
the military might of one group of people to deter
the wickedness of another group of people by the
force of arms. It does NOT describe the
compassion He shows His people by granting them
victory. It describes the compassion He shows to
all the earth as He works His will through the
course of history. When you put that clause in
context it reads, "If God did not make men deter
one another this earth would indeed be depraved.
But gracious is God to the people of the world."

If you are drawing your quote from a portion of
the Qur'an not found in Surah 2:249-251 or 252,
then you are out of bounds. Because that phrase,
although it may be important to the overall
portrait that the Qur'an paints about God, it does
nothing to contribute to the portrait found in
this particular passage of the Qur'an. What we
are looking at in this discussion is one
particular instance from the Qur'an and one
particular instance from the Bible. If all the
rest of the Bible portrays God as a vile monster
(which it does not), while all the rest of the
Qur'an portrays God as a loving God overflowing
with kindness and affection for His people -- none
of that matters. It is not a part of this
particular discussion. What matters in this
discussion is how God is portrayed in these two
passages.

> The whole narration is about the ease
> and miraculousness of the victory, but at the
same time giving the
> moral lessons behind it.

I don't agree with you about this victory being
easy. The last have of verse 249 shows that there
was some dissention in the ranks of the righteous.
Some of those who believed and stayed with Saul
faltered and said, "We have no strength to combat
Goliath and His forces today." The reply from the
believers who feared the Day of Judgment was, "God


is with those who are patient (and persevere)."

What actually occurred on the battlefield is left
completely to the imagination. The only thing we
are told is that God rewarded their faithfulness,
because it says, "By the will of God they defeated
them." Was it easy? Was it hard? Did the battle
ebb and flow? The only clues given to us in this
regard are the comments of the believers before
the battle. The clues suggest it was a hard
battle. That doesn't mean it necessarily was
hard. And although the result was clearly
miraculous, that does not mean that it was also
easy.


> Among these lessons are how does one gain
> God's help,

So there is a formula to be found in this passage.
Trust in God. Demonstrate faithfulness to His
commands. And you will, perhaps, receive His
blessing.


> and how God plays an active part in history by
checking
> injust nations with other nations to prevent
misery, chaos, and
> anarchy from overspreading the Earth.

Unjust nations are not necessarily full of misery;
and chaos and anarchy are rarely found in the same
company as pervasive injustice. Where injustice
is being practiced by a nation, it is an
indication of unjust laws strictly enforced or
maybe just laws unjustly enforced. But where
there are laws and law enforcers, there is rarely
chaos and anarchy. On the other hand I have
learned from first hand testimony that where a
government is swept away by defeat in a war, all
the symptoms you described are very real problems.
So although God might use war to punish a nation's
injustice, it is not very likely that He uses war
to mitigate "misery," "chaos," and "anarchy,"
since all three of these are the natural
by-products of war.


> They are referring to various
> aspects of the law of God.

Yes, the Qur'an, taken by itself, has a very
impressive moral to teach -- which I have said all
along.


> Nowhere in here is the Quran denying this
victory as being a blessing.

I have never attempted to make that claim. You
are reading too much into things.


> > The story in the Qur'an presents a
> > glorious, but less glorious picture of God;
> > because it presents Him as the one responding
and
> > reacting to the faith of His people.
> >
>
> So what you are implying is that God's actions
are arbitrary in the
> Old Testament? He grants victory in a ho-di-dum
manner? This is
> where your attempts lead you.

>From our perspective as human beings, yes. God's
actions appear completely arbitrary, because His
motive is the love He has for His people.
Sometimes we are so conditioned to think that love
(whether it is human love, or God's love) is
something we receive only when we deserve it, that
it becomes very difficult to accept the God (and
sometimes our loved ones) love us no matter how we
behave.


> Nowhere is it seen that God is merely responding
or reacting. Your
> reading into things that are not there. The
mere fact that Gop is
> communicating with HIs Prophet is proof that God
is active.

Are you talking about the communication of God to
Saul (which is only implied, not directly relayed
to us), or are you talking about the communication
of the story as a whole to Muhammad? If you read
the entire passage, you will notice that God does
not utter one word as a character in the story. I
know that He is the one narrating the entire
thing. I know that He spoke this passage to His
Prophet (according to the Prophet). But God is a
character in this story, who does not have one
word of dialogue in it. We see Saul telling
Israel about the test from God. We see some of
the believers faltering. We see other believers
standing firm in their faith. We see all the
believers praying to God for victory. But we do
not see one word uttered by God to Saul, or the
believers, or the unbelievers, or the earth --
other than the narration itself. It is absolutely
marvelous that God gave us this story in the
Qur'an, but that only demonstrates His love for
US. It does NOT demonstrate His love for THEM.
In the story God's love for the people is
demonstrated by one phrase after the test of their
discipline at the water, after the test of their
patience and perseverance later on, after their
prayer to God for His blessing, then one little
phrase is inserted which says, "by the will of God
they defeated them." That phrase, taken by
itself, is so weak and ambiguous that without the
context you might wonder, who defeated whom? But
there can be no doubt that the people of God
defeated the enemies of God by the will of God.
And even in acknowledging the role God played, the
Qur'an makes it clear that God rewarded THEIR
efforts with a victory: "by the will of God THEY
defeated them." It is very clear that God is
responding and reacting to the faith and patience,
etc. of the believers.

And I must again give appropriate homage to the
greatness of that -- because it IS wonderful.


> But you
> still have not explained:
>
> God saying his purpose of narrowing down the
army is that he does not
> want Israel to take the glory all for itself?
The story says God
> narrowed down the army based upon jealousy.
This is an arbitrary act
> if anything, and has no relevance to those who
are sincere. So what
> was the purpose of the test ion the Old
Testament, and how did God
> choose who would be granted victory? Random
selection. Is this a
> more glorious picture of God?

You keep repeating the word "jealousy" as if it
were a nasty word. Yes, God wanted to take all
the glory for the battle -- but WHY? Because by
taking the initiative and taking the glory, He was
displaying His love for His people in a much more
dramatic way.

When I was a child I received an allowance. It
started out at a dollar per week, and eventually
got up to about five or ten dollars per week. But
when you are between the ages of ten and fifteen
years old, your "expenses" begin to rise
dramatically. Allowances can rarely keep up with
them and yet, because of child-labor laws you
cannot get real work -- and every kid on the block
is competing for the odd jobs in the neighborhood.
Every now and then an event would come up where we
would need some money to really enjoy ourselves --
like a trip to the amusement park or a concert or
ballgame or something, but it was money we didn't
have. Sometimes my Dad would see us as we were
walking out the door and slip some extra, unearned
money into our hands, just as a way of saying, "I
love you. Have a good time."

When you speak angry words to your wife and she
somehow manages to see past the outburst to the
frustration that caused it, and she speaks soft
and affectionate words to you in return. This is
a better love than the love she returns to you in
those circumstances where you speak to her
affectionately.

This is the same dichotomy we see in these two
stories. The allowance is very good. It is a
demonstration of love and fairness. But the extra
spending money is a demonstration of love and
mercy. God intervening on behalf of His people in
the Qur'anic story is very good. But it is was
like the granting of the allowance -- it is like
the affection returned for affection given -- they
had "earned" it. In Judges God visited His
people, raised them up out of the caves where they
were hiding, and gave them the victory before they
had done so much as ask for it. It was like the
unearned affection you might receive after an
outburst.


> Please explain this more glorious picture of God
before even going
> into your other objections which lack validity.

You are making this far more confrontational than
I ever intended. In fact, I'm not sure what
"objections" you are refering to.

I have explained the difference between the glory
of the Qur'anic account and the glory of the
Judges account to the best of my ability. I'm not
asking you to agree with it. But if you don't see
it, if you still think I haven't explained it,
perhaps this is because you want to misunderstand
my point of view.

God bless you and keep you strong in your faith.

Eric


asimm...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 7:29:19 AM1/14/02
to
The message of the story might still get
> across if one of these three elements were altered, so as to make man the
> central player. But the message would be weakened. So in light of the
> story's message the methodology you describe here is the only one that makes
> sense.
>

You don't get it. The selection of the king of the Israelites as
indicated by the Old Testament itself is by their PERSISTENT request,
despite the Lord's objection. The king was to remove the enemies who
reigned over them, thus their mentioning of a king being able to FIGHT
for them. The whole narration ORIGINATED because of the insistence of
the Israelites. How is it you get the intepretation that it was
unmerited favour, when the Lord says in the verse of bringing the king
to power that if the voice of the Lord is not hearkened to then God's
wrath will descend on the king and the people? Let me ask you, why
were the Israelites driven out of the Temple? because of God's
arbitrary as you like to call it wisdom or because of their lack of
faith and discipline?

The Quran says that when they were COMMANDED to fight, most of them
turned back. And this despite their persisting that they have a king
to fight those whomd rove and expelled them from their homes.

Referring to the vicotry in battle, The Quran in 251 uses the term
"bi idhnillah", So they routed them by ALLAH'S WILL'. This occurs
immediately after the prayer of the Israelites. This word not only
implies command, but facilitation. So in two words the Quran
describes the victory as granted to the Israelites, including all the
miraculius events, was God's will. It has nothing to do with vicory
by numbers. It was God's favour.

What is also pertinent is that the mentioning of David slaying Goliath
is mentioned after the fact that the God granted them victory by his
will. This is a the most pertinent aspect of the battle which caused
the phillistines to lose heart and cause them to be routed. This is
actually an explanation of one of the ways in which God routed the
enemy, i.e. how he facilitated it.


> This makes a lot of sense. But the text does not portray Talut's words as a
> command. It portrays them as if he is offering the men a choice. If it is
> a choice, using the method of drinking as a "test" makes no sense, but if it
> is a command, then given the right circumstances it could make a lot of
> sense. Thanks.
>

When Talut says GOD is going to test you, does it mean a choice? Or
are you making an objection for the sake of making an objection.

Have you ever seen a canteen on a military man? Do you ever wonderits
purpose? Watch the movie Behind Enemy Lines, and see how he uses a
canteen to preserve his strength and carry on? Notice if he gulps and
gulps or drinks just enough that will give him enough strength to keep
going, especially during such a trying time. Then imagine an army
that is marching to battle, carrying arms under the searing sun of the
Middle East and coming across a river? Then ask yourself why is the
test applicable? Can one gulp to quench his thirst like an animal, or
can the true soldier just drink enough, a handful to preserve his
strength.


>
> This prayer supports my conclusion about the main lesson we are to take from
> the Qur'anic story. This is a prayer for Allah to bless OUR efforts against
> the enemy based on the fact that we believe and they do not believe. And
> this is not a bad lesson in and of itself. But I still prefer the beauty of
> God's unmerited favor to the beauty of God's merited favor.
>

First of all, the prayer of the believers indicates that victory is
solely bi idhnillah, by Allah's command and facilitation. This is
then followed by the prayer for endurance, i.e. their recognition that
endurance, courage, and victory all come from God. And these three
characteristics sum up what lead to victory in battle. And God alone
commands and facilitates it.

Second, The Quran says immediately afterwards that the army was routed
by God's will, biidhnillah is used again. In Arabic the words imply
not only command but facilitation as stated above. Thus it attributes
victory solely to God. As an example of the miraculousness of this
victory, God gives a description of the most pertinent event, the
slaying of the Philistine chief, Goliath, by a mere young lad by the
name of David, who went on to be blessed with prophethood and
kingship, again as the Quran says by God's will.

> A God who loves us enough to help us when we don't deserve it, perhaps loves
> us more than a God who helps us only after we have earned it. (That's just
> my opinion; don't jump all over it.) There is also much beauty to be found
> in God dealing with us justly. But is that more beautiful than God dealing
> with us mercifully? I think one must have a very high opinion of his own
> righteousness to answer affirmatively.
>

Justice is an aspect of mercy. It is part of mercy that the good will
eventually be rewarded and the evil punished. Nowhere in these verse
is the mercy of God denied. "God is fully of bounty to all the
worlds." In fact, the universal law is being drawn out of these
verses, that unjust nation's are repelled by other's to keep a check
on injustice and misery. This does not deny jutsice, nor does it deny
mercy.

Peace be upon you


asimm...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 7:29:16 AM1/14/02
to
"Eric" <eric...@swbell.net> wrote in message news:<a1p0tc$svt$1...@samba.rahul.net>...
> > Comment:-
> > The whole Quran is about God. The verse 2:249 says "Allah will test you.."
> > How do you come to the conclusion that "God is not the active player"
>
> Yes, I agree with you. Allah is a player in the story. But in my opinion
> He is not the central player. That is my opinion based on the fact that in
> 2:249 and following everyone who wanted to fight had the opportunity to stay
> and fight. Is that not an accurate picture? In Judges there was a group of
> 10,000 men (my apologies to anyone who saw this figure, which I failed to
> see earlier) willing to fight, and God selected only 300 of them in a
> relatively arbitrary manner. (Arbitrary in the sense that how one chooses
> to drink water, may say something, but actually says very little about how
> qualified you are to fight.)
>

Have you ever visited the Middle East in the searing heat, let alone
participate in a military exercise? Have you ever marched along with
an army for miles that has been expelled from their homes and felt the
weight of the arms carrying heavily along your shoulders? Do army men
carry canteens for absolutely no reason? Do you not understand the
nature of thirst in the desert and how it keeps one moving along for
soldiers? This is a very significant test by any standards, and it is
one of moral discipline and fortitude. If one cannot remember that
God will test men with the river aftre marching for God knows how long
and precede to gulp down to one's satisfaction, instead of just
drinking the necessary water to keep going, than one would not be
deserving of being part of a victory that was going to cause the
Israelites to become a major superpower, through the reign of David.
You are speaking from a perspective that has never encountered what
the people in Arabia encountered, battle in the searing heat. Forget
the Arabs, ask any military person in the desert, marching for hours.
They sip water from their canteen just to keep moving. They do not
quench their thirst.

How can you compare such a situation with a selection in an 'arbitray
manner'? The Old Testament is explicit in the fact that God narrowed
it down because he did not want Israel to claim glory for itself for
the victory? Nobody is even talking about a grand master plan in the
long-run? What you are saying is God selected men, even kicked some
out though they may have been sincere? What is the good in this that
you praise so highly? In your previous post, commenting on wisdom,
you implied wisdom is not always good when it implies craftiness?
Besides the fact that they are two different things, the above reason
is a story of craftiness. You said nobody knew of the test, and this
is how God selected some to be kicked out if one even supports your
assertion.

Do you know that saying it was an arbitrary selection is making your
argument look even more ridiculous? Oh, but I forgot, you will simply
deny this by saying "We cannot comprehend God's wisdom?" Than why
have you even tried to compare the two? It's either the Old Testament
is superior or We cannot comprhend God's wisdom. In both cases the
telling of the story by the Old Testament is superior in your eyes.
So what's your point of coming here with your impressions that are not
even validated by textual evidence?


> And in Judges God's motive for giving the victory was His own. Yes, he
> required a certain level of obedience from Israel. But God was not
> following and responding to the obedience. He was very clearly prompting it
> because He had an agenda.

What was the agenda that was so different in the Old Testament as
compared to the Quran? Where have you derived the agenda? On what
basis? Are you speaking from opinion, or verse? Please inform us,
and if you cannot, than we will assume that all this is just a
baseless opinion? The Quran tells us that the Israelites were
persecuted and driven out of their homes leaving behind their
children? The Old Testament tells us that the appointment of a king
was on PERSISTENT demand by the Israelites, despite God telling them
otherwise through the mouth of Samuel. How can you escape the claim
that the Israelites were the initiators in the Old Testament? They
requested this because "And when you saw that Nahash the king of the
Ammonites came against you, you said to me, No, but a king shall reign
over us, when the Lord your God was king. And now behold the king
whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the Lord has
set a king over you."

So tell us how the Old Testament, the fact that God is the central
player is more prominent. Please give evidence. not opinion.

In the Qur'an you have the opposite picture. The
> people are going to war (presumably in the cause of Allah) and because they
> are faithful and so forth, God blesses them with victory.
>

Presumably? The Quran says in two verse before, that the impulse to
fight was that they were expelled from their homes. Of course, they
were fighting for Allah. Coupled by the fact that God had guaranteed
them victory through the carrying of the Ark, a symbol of triumph and
victory? What's the point? Especially considering the context it is
very relevant. Does one expect God's help to come when men sit idly
by? The Old Testamnent says that "but if you will not hearken to the
voice of your Lord, but rebel against the commandment of hte Lord,
then the hand of the Lords will be against you and your king." So
where is your objection to the Quran's account of victory being
because they "hearken to the voice of their Lord."


> Yes, my opinion that the picture in Judges presents God in a greater
> light -- that is my own opinion. But my opinion that in the Qur'an God is
> responding to the faithfulness of the people, while in Judges God is the
> proactive, central character of the story -- that opinion is supported by
> any objective examination of the text. And you can't pretend that the
> simple statement "Allah will test you..." places Him in the center of the
> whole narrative.
>

Where is the evidence of your assertion from the Old Testament? The
test is related to the selection of the army. God's granting victory
through the sign of the Ark being returned to them preceded the test
negates your fallacious interpretation. You have not given any
evidence at all fromthe Old Testament by quoting any verses which
validates your opinion? Whether even that opinion is more valid is a
whole different story.


>
> I'm sorry you are misunderstanding my assertion, but I cannot help but think
> this might be deliberate. God clearly acted with Gideon and His 300 men.
> The distinction is that God was the initiator of the action. His motives
> for acting were His own motives.

What were his motives? Do you have any idea that there is a certain
context to the events happening? Does one think that the authors of
the Old Testament were speaking of an event totally outside a vacuum?
Do you think that these Israelites were not being persecuted and
driven out of their homes? Are you saying God directed these people
to fight a reason we could not understand?

That is not the same thing as suggesting
> that He actually acted alone, although the thrust of the way the story is
> told gives the reader that impression (I think by design of the
> author/Author(?).
>
>

Evidence? Not mere opinion.

> > What makes you think that "Allah is the one that gives victory to the
> army
> > before a single man ever brandishes a sword." Judges 7:7 says "The Lord
> > said unto Gideon: By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you and
> > deliver the Midianites into thind hand."
>
> If you read further down you see that the men carried lanterns or torches
> concealed in clay jars. They also carried trumpets. On Gideon's signal
> they broke the jars, holding forth the light; and blew the trumpets. Unless
> these men had three arms they were not "brandishing," i.e. holding their
> swords. And it was at this point that the camp of the enemy was thrown into
> confusion and defeated as if by God. Eventually Israel pursued the enemy,
> but the victory was already theirs -- a gift from God.
>

The Quran says that the return of the Ark will be brought back? It
was regarded as a sign of triumph and victory by the Israelites.
This preceded the testing of the river. What's your point? All you
have said is that a small number routed a greater number. You have
not given any evidence to prove your assertion that God is more active
in the Old Testament. These comments are irrelevant to your claim.

What initiated the confusion and destruction of the enemy army was the
death of their chief warrior, Goliath, by the early youth David. It
was because of this slaying which raised him to such a position in the
eyes of Israelites.

>
>
> > It seems to me that you will continue reading the Quran with an
> > unnecessarily biased mind.
> > You will not, therefore, see its contents and it will not do you much
> good.
>
> My mind is biased which is precisely why I am here. I believe Islam does
> violence (figuratively speaking) to the doctrines of Christianity, but I
> need to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of all that.

Doctrines of Christianity? As far as I remember, this narration
havppened well before Christianity even came about. How is it you
derive Christian doctrines from it that nobody for thousands of years
did? And you still derive doctrines that are not substantiated by an
ounce of evidence.

To sum up, you base your opinion that God initiated the action by
himself, as an active player, without giving any textual evidence to
support your assertion.

The story in the Old Testament has a background which you have
yourself not even included.

Maybe you should read it with more depth, because it says in Samuel
12: 6-23:

"If you fear the Lord and serve him and hearken to his voice and not
rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the
king who reigns over you WILL FOLLOW the Lord your God, it will be
well; but if you will not hearken to the voice of your Lord, but rebel
against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be
against you and your king.

If you even read before this, the Israelites wished that "No! But we
will have a king over us, that we may also be like all the nations,
and that our king may govern us and fight our battles.' During their
persistence, though despite God's recommending them of all the wrongs
a king would do, as recounted in 1 Samuel 7:15; 8: 4-22, Samuel told
all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking a king for him
".... And on that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you
have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that
day."

Finally after insistence, the Lord said to Samuel 'Hearken to their
voice and make them a king.'

So the appointment of the king was a direct result of the Israelites
persistence. Where is your textual evidence to support your assertion
that you are making? Please do not give opinions. Give us facts.

The Old Testament argued that the test was arbitrary, the Quran says
it was for moral discipline and determining who was. So tell us how
you derive your opinions from the Old Testament? Otherwise you are

wsgiles

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 7:43:18 AM1/14/02
to
Wether Surah2:249or Judges,Gideon or Saul,Midianites or Philistanes
there is a point that no one has touched on!
I don't see that it should matter to us how they drank the water
or if there were 300 or 313 men.
The fact is we all believe that a small number of men defeated a army,
with gods will.
Know maybe the lesson to be learnt is in the defeated army?
With the flash of light and the blowing of horns they were over powered!
Some must have realized in there defeat that allah was the power that
brought them down.
And maybe some of those say the straight path.

just a thought
-ward-
peace be with you.


M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 5:14:05 AM1/15/02
to
On 14 Jan 2002, wsgiles wrote:

Assalamu-alaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

> The fact is we all believe that a small number of men defeated a army,
> with gods will.
> Know maybe the lesson to be learnt is in the defeated army?
> With the flash of light and the blowing of horns they were over powered!
> Some must have realized in there defeat that allah was the power that
> brought them down.
> And maybe some of those say the straight path.

Apart from that the related verse is also studied for the i'jaz or the
terseness of the expression in the Qur'an. More information at:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Q_Studies/Mirstudy.html

Wassalam
Saifullah

http:///www.islamic-awareness.org/


Eric

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 5:38:45 AM1/15/02
to
> Comment:-
> I can see we will have unending arguments owing
to a difference of attitude
> and perception.
> In truth I do not think it is worth replying.
> But I will confine myself to pointing out what
had already been stated,
> answering some question assuming they are
genuine
> and perhaps for the benefit of others..
>
> (1) The selection of the 300 was not arbitrary
as you say. We do not think
> Allah acts
> arbitrarily but with Truth and Wisdom.
> The test selected those who were well
disciplined and had faith and control
> over themselves.

I agree with you. When I say it was arbitrary
that is a matter of perspective. That the wisdom
of the drinking test may not be easily apparent to
us does not mean it is therefore lacking in
wisdom. But since in this comment you are talking
about the account in Judges we should also agree
that the faith, discipline and self-control of the
300 men did not play any significant part in their
victory over the Midianites (according to the
Judges account).


> (2) God is shown throughout the Quran as having
a plan and man is required
> to follow this.
> The Prophets are sent by God and obey God's
instructions.
> It is God who instructed Talut (Saul or Gideon)
to fight.

So you are saying that in Islam Talut is
considered a prophet. Is that right? And because
prophets obey God's instructions, any action by
Talut is in response to God's instructions. So
God is the initiator of events in this story.
Okay, that makes sense. (Is there another
Qur'anic passage that expands on this story?)


> (3) Yes, Predetermination is taught in Islam.
Allah has a plan and none can
> thwart it.
> People merely benefit or harm themselves
according to how they relate to the
> plan.
> This is also predetermined.

This might make for an interesting discussion some
day. Especially since all the nay-sayers in this
forum would be able to throw quotes from great
Christian giants against me. In the meantime, I'm
wondering if in Islam Allah's predetermined,
unthwartible plan extends to our all the way down
into our personal lives. Clearly Allah has a
great plan for the history of the world, but does
He also have a plan (a destiny) for my life? Is
that plan predetermined or is it mutable?


> (4) Human beings have the spirit of God in them
(15:29, 32:9). When this is
> active as in the Prophets, Messengers and saints
then they are agents of
> God - God does the work through them.
>
> But the original creative force of God goes
through several levels and
> produces all the other forces. There are, for
instance, psychological,
> physiological, social, biological,
electromagnetic, electronic, chemical,
> gravitational, mechanical etc forces. The
behaviour of man is affected by
> all these forces. If he does not function at the
higher spiritual level then
> he has "fallen" to a lower level where these
lower mundane forces take
> control.

If I remember correctly, you are a Sufi? Are
these particular ideas unique to the Sufis, or do
they receive a special emphasis in Sufism as
opposed to Islam in general?

When you say that the original creative force
(same as spirit of God?) goes through several
levels, what does that mean? Do you mean that it
is affected by all these other external forces?
Oh, I think I see. You are saying that these
external forces affect our lives, and depending on
what level the original creative force of the
spirit of God is operating in our lives, we are
either spiritual (submitted, etc.) or fallen. Is
that the right idea?


> (5) The story in Judges 7 tells us that a
strategy was used by Gideon and
> his men -
> They made a lot of frightening noise by holding
flames,blowing trumpets and
> breaking pitchers and shouting "The sword of the
Lord". "And all the hosts
> ran and cried and fled."
> So was it these actions which led to victory or
was it the fact that God
> instructed them to do this and they carried it
out?

Judges 7:22 tells us that when the three hundred
blew the trumpets, "the Lord set every man's sword
against his companion throughout the whole camp,
and the army fled..." So my answer would be
neither. 1) Just as you assume with Talut, I also
assume with Gideon, that the strategy was the
Lord's and not Gideon's. The strategy would seem
foolish to us, because three hundred men cannot
possibly surround (on all sides) an encampment of
135,000 men. Any man among us would reject the
strategy, because it is extremely risky especially
given that it occupies both hands and leaves the
men less prepared to fight than if they could
carry and actual sword. 2) The verse indicates
that the victory came as a result of Allah's
direct intervention. The level of confusion that
resulted in the enemy's camp is not commensurate
with the level of confusion caused by three
hundred trumpets and three hundred lights
surrounding 135,000 men. So although the actions
of the men were important, and the obedience that
those actions represented was also important, the
key was the direct intervention of God on behalf
of His people.


> (6) Muslims do not think we can obtain salvation
by our own unaided efforts
> but
> >from faith and obedience to God. Egotism is
abolished and humility is
> incorporated in the
> the very name Islam (Surrender to Allah) and
Muslim (one who surrenders to
> Allah.)
> The acceptance and practice of Islam is
incopatible with egotism (which is
> the characteristic of Satan)

So salvation is a synergistic work accomplished by
the individual working in concert with Allah. Is
Allah the initiator of the work (of salvation) or
is the individual the initiator?

What do you mean by "Egotism"? Are you just
talking about pride, or does it have (in this
instance) a more precise psychological meaning?
If the latter is the case, you are saying, I
think, that (to some extent) our sense of self is
abolished when we submit to Islam. And I suppose
it is replaced (in part) by the spirit of God you
were talking about earlier. This also sounds like
it may be a uniquely Sufi perspective -- am I
right?

When I ask about the Sufi perspective, I don't
mean to make it sound like a challenge or
anything. I'm not asking the question to put
Sufism down, or make it sound inferior. I just
don't know a lot about Sufism; and I think when
there are different sects in a religion what is
interesting to examine is not their similarities
but their differences. That is why I ask if these
particular ideas are unique to Sufism.


> This agrees with the teachings of Jesus also:-
> "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord
shall enter into the kingdom of
> heaven, but He THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER
WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. Many
> will say to me in that Day: Lord, Lord, have we

not prophesied in thy name?


> and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy
name done many wonderful
> works? And then will I profess unto them, I
NEVER KNEW YOU: DEPART FROM ME,
> YE THAT WORK INIQUITY." Matthew 7:21-23
>
> "And this is Eternal Life that they might know
THEE THE ONLY TRUE GOD... and
> Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent." John 17:3

Forgive me if this seems nit-picky, but you got
the whole verse here in its entirety, so you don't
need the ellipsis in the middle. Placing it there
might make your Christian skeptics think you left
out the good parts. Hope this helps.


> "While I was with them in the world I kept them
in THY NAME..." John 17:12
>
> ""But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true
worshippers shall worship
> the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father
seeketh such to worhip Him."
> John 4:23
>
> "I can of mine own self do nothing: As I hear, I
judge; and my judgement is
> just because I SEEK NOT MINE OWN WILL, but the
WILL OF THE FATHER which
> hath sent me." John 6:30
>
> "..I do nothing of myself; but as the Father
hath taught me, I speak these
> things." John 8:28

This is another question that is a little off
topic, but how do you know that these verses are
the actual sayings and teachings of Jesus? I
mean, on what basis do you decide which parts are
genuine and which parts are fabricated?


Hey, I just want to say "thank you," for helping
to take some of the "edge" off this conversation.

God Bless You.

Eric Matthaei


Eric

unread,
Jan 16, 2002, 10:10:48 AM1/16/02
to
> Before you make statements and ask questions on
this newsgroup it is a
> good idea to read the basics of Islam and
Qur'an.

If I read the basics of Islam and Qur'an will it
change my initial observations about the moral of
the story presented in the Qur'an? Do you believe
I was amiss in saying that the moral of the
Qur'anic passage is: "God gives victory to those


among His people who fight with faith and courage,

patience and perseverance"? If so, please share
the alternative lesson that you believe is more
appropriate.

You have made your point very well, but we have
gone a little off course with this line of
discussion.

Thanks again for the articles.


Eric

unread,
Jan 16, 2002, 10:10:52 AM1/16/02
to
> You don't get it. The selection of the king of
the Israelites as
> indicated by the Old Testament itself is by
their PERSISTENT request,
> despite the Lord's objection. The king was to
remove the enemies who
> reigned over them, thus their mentioning of a
king being able to FIGHT
> for them. The whole narration ORIGINATED
because of the insistence of
> the Israelites. How is it you get the
intepretation that it was
> unmerited favour, when the Lord says in the
verse of bringing the king
> to power that if the voice of the Lord is not
hearkened to then God's
> wrath will descend on the king and the people?
Let me ask you, why
> were the Israelites driven out of the Temple?
because of God's
> arbitrary as you like to call it wisdom or
because of their lack of
> faith and discipline?

You have mixed up some of your facts (which some
might say the Qur'an does as well since we see
elements of three Bible stories just in verse
249). Gideon was not a king, and God did not
select him as a king, nor did Gideon ever actually
accept the crown (although the people wanted to
make him king, and he did accept some regal
privileges). The persistent request of the
people, and God's relenting to their request
applies to the ascension of Saul to the throne of
Israel, which is recorded in the book of 1 Samuel.
But the passage in Judges 7 takes place long
before Saul is born. Therefore it is false to say
that the "whole narration originated because of
the insistence of the Israelites" for a king. If
you believe Allah's unmerited mercy and grace
working proactively on behalf of Israel is not
clearly demonstrated by the passage from Judges, I
challenge to actually read the story for yourself
in Judges, chapters 6 and 7.

When God did anoint kings for Israel, the king was
responsible before God to lead the people in the
ways of His covenant with Israel. God objected to
kings in large part because they would have
significant power to lead the people astray from
His covenant.


>
> The Quran says that when they were COMMANDED to
fight, most of them
> turned back. And this despite their persisting
that they have a king
> to fight those whomd rove and expelled them from
their homes.
>
> Referring to the vicotry in battle, The Quran in
251 uses the term
> "bi idhnillah", So they routed them by ALLAH'S
WILL'. This occurs
> immediately after the prayer of the Israelites.
This word not only
> implies command, but facilitation. So in two
words the Quran
> describes the victory as granted to the
Israelites, including all the
> miraculius events, was God's will. It has
nothing to do with vicory
> by numbers. It was God's favour.

You are ever so subtlely changing the topic here,
and also misrepresenting my previous comments. I
have not tried to portray the victory in the
Qur'an as a result of human strength, and I have
always acknowledged that Talut and David won the
victory by the favor of Allah. All I have done is
pointed out that the favor of Allah, which won the
battle for them, came as a result of their faith
and courage, etc. In other words, God responded
to and honored their efforts. By contrast the
depiction from Judges shows God raising the people
up through Gideon, and cutting their numbers down
to a miniscule size, all to demonstrate His love
for them by giving them a victory they could not
win for themselves -- even if they had been
inclined to try.

You have made your point well, and I accept it.
These are the two words (from the entire Qur'anic
passage) that indicate God initiated the entire
sequence of events to begin with.

You have made your point well. The test is a test
of discipline no matter what the circumstances
surrounding it. In fact, you can say the test, as
portrayed in Judges, is also a test of discipline
on the same grounds. However, in the Qur'an
whatever test of their discipline was being
administered it was also a test of their will to
fight. In fact, it was primarily a test of their
will to fight. If they were too tired, or too
frightened, or too distracted by the affairs of
home, or if they just didn't want to fight for ANY
reason, they had the opportunity to jump in the
water and start drinking like a dog -- no matter
how disciplined they might have otherwise been.
In Judges it is true that those who lacked
strength and discipline could also drink like
dogs, but they didn't know that drinking that way
was a free ticket home! Is there some other way
to explain this so that you will understand and
accept this fundamental difference here?

Judges mentions the same sort of test of the
army's will to fight that the Qur'an incorporates
into the drinking test. But in Judges the test of
the will is separate from the test of discipline
at the water. It is mentioned in chapter 7 verse
3 where the Lord tells Gideon to send those who
are afraid home. And 22,000 of the 32,000 men
left Gideon. Each and every one of the men who
left admitted fear, but that doesn't mean they
were all telling the truth. They could leave for
any reason they wished, including or excluding
fear, as long as they understood that leaving
branded them with cowardice. The test of
discipline was administered only to the 10,000 men
remaining who were willing to fight. So although
you have made your point very well here (and in
previous posts too), your point is missing the
mark.

This is how the wisdom of God is clearly
demonstrated in Judges (which is not explained to
discredit or discount the wisdom of God
demonstrated in the Qur'anic passage). If He had
incorporated the two tests into one (by telling
the people in advance how to pass or fail) the
fact that God chose the 300 men would not have
been so clearly demonstrated. We can agree that
in His providential care God selects those who
have discipline and those who do not, so that in
either the Bible story or the Qur'anic passage the
providence of God is clear. But in Judges God
takes an extra precaution to insure that His
providence is more clearly demonstrated by not
giving the men at the water a second opportunity
to opt out of service by a choice of their free
wills. Thus it is God and God alone (almost
absolutely alone) who selects the 300 men. God
wanted the number in Gideon's army so small that
no one could possibly say that they won the
victory. Because if the victory belonged to
Israel, rather than to God some might be led to
doubt the greatness of God's love for Israel.

And why is this important? Because we all know
that the love we earn is less valuable than the
love we fail to earn. Think of it terms of a
family. If you come home full of the frustrations
of the day, and some little irritant causes you to
go off yelling at your wife. If she answers you
softly and affectionately (which because of our
human nature is probably rare in most households,
but surely you can imagine it) that affection
means a great deal more than the affection she
demonstrates after you have been buttering her up
by saying sweet things to her.

In the Judges account, God was careful to portray
the love He demonstrated as an unmerited love. In
the Qur'an it is also quite possible to see God's
love as unmerited, if you so choose. And since it
is your Holy Scriptures I will not try to argue
that point with you. Feel free to read the Qur'an
in the way that seems best to you and your
scholars. All I ask is that you put the two
passages together and tell me honestly which one
does the better job of displaying unmerited as
opposed to merited Love. If you can answer that
honestly, then you are completely free to decide
which kind of love you like better.


Altway

unread,
Jan 17, 2002, 2:20:29 AM1/17/02
to
"Eric" <jc...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:a210rl$hm3$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> > (1) The selection of the 300 was not arbitrary
> >as you say. We do not think Allah acts arbitrarily but with Truth and
Wisdom.
The test selected those who were well disciplined and had faith and
control
over themselves.

> I agree with you. When I say it was arbitrary that is a matter of
perspective.
That the wisdom of the drinking test may not be easily apparent to
us does not mean it is therefore lacking in
> wisdom. But since in this comment you are talking about the account in
Judges
we should also agree that the faith, discipline and self-control of the
300 men did not play any significant part in their victory over the
Midianites (according to the
Judges account).

Comment:-
I do not agree.

> > (2) God is shown throughout the Quran as having
> > a plan and man is required to follow this.
The Prophets are sent by God and obey God's instructions.
It is God who instructed Talut (Saul or Gideon) to fight.

> So you are saying that in Islam Talut is
> considered a prophet. Is that right? And because
prophets obey God's instructions, any action by
Talut is in response to God's instructions. So
God is the initiator of events in this story.
Okay, that makes sense. (Is there another
Qur'anic passage that expands on this story?)

Comment:-
The Quran mentions the story of Moses and the magicians at the court of
Pharaoh.
The mission and deeds of other Prophets are also mentioned.
The following verse explains:-
"It is not you who slew them, but it was Allah who slew them; nor was it you
who threw (the dust to blind the enemy), but Allah who threw it to test the
believers by goodly test from Himself; verily, Allah is Hearer, Knower."
8:17

But we are getting into an area which can produce further misunderstanding
and controversy.

> > (3) Yes, Predetermination is taught in Islam.
> > Allah has a plan and none can thwart it.
People merely benefit or harm themselves according to how they relate to
the
plan. This is also predetermined.

> This might make for an interesting discussion some day.
> Especially since all the nay-sayers in this forum would be able to throw
quotes from great Christian giants against me. In the meantime, I'm
wondering
if in Islam Allah's predetermined, unthwartible plan extends to our all the
way down
into our personal lives. Clearly Allah has a great plan for the history
of the world, but does
He also have a plan (a destiny) for my life? Is that plan predetermined
or is it mutable?

Comment:-
This gets us into advanced, misunderstood and controversial areas.
It is probably a question of how "Time" is understood. It can be regarded as
a dimension.
Allah knows where every individual will end up and all action have causes
originating in God.
But we have been given instructions through the Prophets and Scriptures and
these are
also causes which modify our actions.
When his companions protested that if everything was determined
what was the point in doing anything, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied
"That is also determined."
The point seems to be that whether you make efforts or not, there are still
causes for it.
Everyone makes the appropriate efforts which lead them to their destination.
>From the point of view of the individual who does not know his destiny
the question is irrelevant, except in that he tries to ensure that his
actions are good
but he does not really blame anyone.
On the other hand the Quran also says:-
"Whatever befalls thee of good (O man) it is from Allah; and whatever
befalls thee of evil it is from thy own soul. We have sent thee to
(instruct) mankind as a Messenger, and Allah suffices for a witness. Whoso
obeys the Messenger he has obeyed Allah; and he who turns away - We have not
sent thee as a warder over them." 4:79-80

The implication here is that we cannot reach Paradise without obeying Allah
directly or through the
Messengers.


> > (4) Human beings have the spirit of God in them (15:29, 32:9). When
this is
> > active as in the Prophets, Messengers and saints then they are agents
of
God - God does the work through them.
But the original creative force of God goes through several levels and
> > produces all the other forces. There are, for instance, psychological,
physiological, social, biological, electromagnetic, electronic, chemical,
gravitational, mechanical etc forces. The behaviour of man is affected by
all these forces. If he does not function at the higher spiritual level
then
he has "fallen" to a lower level where these lower mundane forces take
control.
>
> If I remember correctly, you are a Sufi?

Comment:-
You do not remember correctly.
I am a student of the Quran, Islam and all other religions which were
originally Islam.

> Oh, I think I see. You are saying that these external forces affect our
lives,
> and depending on what level the original creative force of the
spirit of God is operating in our lives, we are either spiritual
(submitted, etc.) or fallen. Is
that the right idea?

Comment:-
"Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like of them.
The Commandment continues to descend among them slowly, that you may know
that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all
things in knowledge." 65:12

If you draw a pyramid or triangle with 7 levels, then the creative force of
God could be regarded as descending from the apex to the base. At each
succeeding level it has congealed into a force appropriate for that level.
If you draw a section, a narrow triangle within the first, from apex to
base
then you could regard this as representing man. He too has 7 levels. But his
"I" or "Self" is not at the Apex. It has fallen to a lower level. It may
have formed attachments to objects at the base.

This is obviously only an analogy


> > (5) The story in Judges 7 tells us that a strategy was used by Gideon
and
> > his men - They made a lot of frightening noise by holding
flames,blowing trumpets and
breaking pitchers and shouting "The sword of the Lord". "And all the
hosts
ran and cried and fled."
So was it these actions which led to victory or was it the fact that God
instructed them to do this and they carried it out?

> Judges 7:22 tells us that when the three hundred blew the trumpets,
> "the Lord set every man's sword against his companion throughout the
whole camp,
> and the army fled..." So my answer would be neither.

Just as you assume with Talut, I also assume with Gideon,
that the strategy was the Lord's and not Gideon's. The strategy would seem
foolish to us, because three hundred men cannot possibly surround (on all
sides)
an encampment of 135,000 men. Any man among us would reject the
strategy, because it is extremely risky especially given that it occupies
both hands and leaves the
men less prepared to fight than if they could carry and actual sword.

The verse indicates that the victory came as a result of Allah's
direct intervention. The level of confusion that resulted in the enemy's
camp is not commensurate
with the level of confusion caused by three hundred trumpets and three
hundred lights
surrounding 135,000 men. So although the actions of the men were
important, and the obedience that those actions represented was also
important, the key was the direct intervention of God on behalf
of His people.

Comment:-
Would God have instructed men to do all this if it was unnecessary?
You are speculating about the foolishness of the strategy.
The fact is that the people trusted in God and obeyed him and God gave them
victory.
There are several interconnected lessons.

> > (6) Muslims do not think we can obtain salvation
> by our own unaided efforts but from faith and obedience to God. Egotism
is
> abolished and humility is incorporated in the the very name Islam
(Surrender to Allah) and
> Muslim (one who surrenders to Allah.) The acceptance and practice of Islam
is
> incopatible with egotism (which is the characteristic of Satan)

> So salvation is a synergistic work accomplished by the individual working
in concert with Allah. Is Allah the initiator of the work (of salvation) or
is the individual the initiator?

Comment:-
The questions themselves involve false assumptions and it is difficult to
know how
to answer these.
God has sent Messengers and Scriptures. God has given us faculties.
It is God who gives us understanding and faith.
We are required to obey His instructions.
It is God who judges and it is he who gives the rewards or punishments.
The reward is nearness to Himself.

> What do you mean by "Egotism"? Are you just talking about pride, or does
it have (in this
> instance) a more precise psychological meaning?
> If the latter is the case, you are saying, I think, that (to some extent)
our sense of self is
> abolished when we submit to Islam. And I suppose
> it is replaced (in part) by the spirit of God you were talking about
earlier. This also sounds like
> it may be a uniquely Sufi perspective -- am I right?

Comment:-
Ego means a separate self - a complex created by fixation or attachments to
things
particularly to ones body and its senses and ones name, an image of self
created by fantasy,
the result of rebellion, a sort of psychological cancer cells
"Nay, verily, man is indeed rebellious in that he thinks himself independent
(or self-sufficient)!" 96:6-7

"Surely, We have created man in the best of moulds. Then We reduced him to
the lowest of the low; save those who believe and act right; for theirs is a
reward unfailing." 95:4-6

So we need to reverse this:-

"O ye who believe! Respond unto Allah and His Messenger when He calls you to
that which quickens you; and know that Allah comes in between a man and his
own heart; and that He it is unto Whom ye shall be gathered." 8:24

"Is he who was dead and We have quickened (given him life) him, and made for
him a light, wherein walks amongst men, like him whose likeness is one
walking in utter darkness whence he cannot emerge? Thus is their conduct
made seemly to the misbelievers." 6:123
..


> When I ask about the Sufi perspective, I don't mean to make it sound like
a challenge or
> anything. I'm not asking the question to put Sufism down, or make it
sound inferior. I just
> don't know a lot about Sufism; and I think when there are different sects
in a religion what is
> interesting to examine is not their similarities but their differences.
That is why I ask if these
> particular ideas are unique to Sufism.

Comment:-
There are Sufis and Sufis.
Each religion has many kinds of people and different people have different
opinions
or different ways of formulating the same ideas. This applies to Islam and
it also applies
to Sufism.
Some people think of Sufism as a sect of Islam, some think of it as
the essence of Islam and some think of it as Islam itself.
My view is as follows:-
The religion brought by Muhammad (saw), according to him, had three aspects
the discipline, the faith and righteousness - (action, faith and being).
These correspond to the Shariat, Tariqat and Haqiqat. Sufism refers to
Tariqat

It is said that
Shariat is what the Prophet did, Tariqat is what he taught and Haqiqat is
what he is.

> > This agrees with the teachings of Jesus also:-
> > "Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the
kingdom of
heaven, but He THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER
WHICH IS IN HEAVEN. Many will say to me in that Day: Lord, Lord, have we
not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy
name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I
NEVER KNEW YOU: DEPART FROM ME, YE THAT WORK INIQUITY." Matthew 7:21-23

etc etc

> This is another question that is a little off topic, but how do you know
that these verses are
> the actual sayings and teachings of Jesus? I mean, on what basis do you
decide which parts are
> genuine and which parts are fabricated?

Comment:-
I quoted them because I thought you would believe them to be the words of
Jesus.
As far as I am concerned they are most probably correct translations of what
Jesus taught because they agree with what the Quran says.
They are also compatible with the teachings contained in many other
scriptures
and they make sense to me.

asimm...@yahoo.com

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Jan 17, 2002, 2:20:08 AM1/17/02
to
If there is anything
> I am trying to "prove," you might say that I'm
> trying to prove that the morals I found in the
> story are the primary lessons each story teaches.

Peace be upon you

With all due respect, and I do not mean to be offensive, you clearly
state your conclusions that the picture of the Old Testament of God is
a grander and holier one. I cannot help but belive that what you were
trying to impress upon is that the Old Testament version is superior.

> The Qur'an presents a story where the people go
> out and fight the unbelievers and God blesses
> their effort. The Bible presents a story where
> God raises up the army and then whittles it down
> until the odds are 450 to 1, and then God wins the
> victory.

It is the same in the Quran. In both versions, the Israelites request
that God appoint for them a king to fight. Your objection is merely
to the recounting of the sincere among the Israelites in the Quranic
version. The Quran gives the victory, all of it, bi idhnillah, i.e.
by the command and facilitation of God.

The only point of differnce is that the test in the Quran is to test
the sincere from the insincere, while the test in the Old Testament is
one where God narrows it down claiming it will reduce his glory if the
Israelites defeat the enemies, with their original numbers. This is
also strange considering that even with the original numbers, the odds
are still well-stacked against them. Also, considering the weapons
they were allegedly carrying.


Because God's unmerited
> favor towards me is more gracious and beautiful
> than God's merited favor.

The point is that in both cases there is no issue of merited and
unmerited favour. The Quran gives total victory to God.

Still, this is a truth that
> describes the compassion God demonstrates by using
> the military might of one group of people to deter
> the wickedness of another group of people by the
> force of arms. It does NOT describe the
> compassion He shows His people by granting them
> victory. It describes the compassion He shows to
> all the earth as He works His will through the
> course of history. When you put that clause in
> context it reads, "If God did not make men deter
> one another this earth would indeed be depraved.
> But gracious is God to the people of the world."
>

Actually, I do not know which translation you are working from but the
word depraved is totally a bad choice. The actually word is fisaad,
i.e corruption, disorder, injustice, and oppression of which all are
aspects of fisaad. The meaning of the verse is that God acts through
nations to keep a check on evils spread by certain other nations. If
this were not so, men would be in total misery and chaos. The Quran
ends with the general statement that this is a result of His Mercy.

The Quran also describes the short-term effects i..e by is saying that
these Israelites were given ascendancy in the land, i.e. David was
given the dominion and the wisdom. The victory led to the
establishment of the Kingdom of David.


> If you are drawing your quote from a portion of
> the Qur'an not found in Surah 2:249-251 or 252,
> then you are out of bounds. Because that phrase,
> although it may be important to the overall
> portrait that the Qur'an paints about God, it does
> nothing to contribute to the portrait found in
> this particular passage of the Qur'an.

I am talking specifically about these particular verses.

>
> > The whole narration is about the ease
> > and miraculousness of the victory, but at the
> same time giving the
> > moral lessons behind it.
>
> I don't agree with you about this victory being
> easy. The last have of verse 249 shows that there
> was some dissention in the ranks of the righteous.
> Some of those who believed and stayed with Saul
> faltered and said, "We have no strength to combat
> Goliath and His forces today."

This merely refers to initial state of some of the believers. This is
not unusual considering the state of circumstances. These verse do
not relate to the Battle itself. Verse 251 actually describes the
victory. Verse 251 begins with the conunction 'fa' which alludes to
the suppressed detail in Arabic, i.e. Allah accepted their prayer.
The victory is actually described with ONE word, fa hazamuhum,
demonstrating the very compact word usage of the Quran. This word is
reflecting the ease and speed at which it happened.


>
>
> > Among these lessons are how does one gain
> > God's help,
>
> So there is a formula to be found in this passage.
> Trust in God. Demonstrate faithfulness to His
> commands. And you will, perhaps, receive His
> blessing.
>

Just as there is a formula in the same Old Testament, "hearken to the
word of your Lord".


> So although God might use war to punish a nation's
> injustice, it is not very likely that He uses war
> to mitigate "misery," "chaos," and "anarchy,"
> since all three of these are the natural
> by-products of war.
>

These are not always the case, nobody denies. Sometimes God purges an
evil nation with another nation. God had sent the enemies of Israel
expelling the Jews from the temple, because of theior disobedience.
But, like you yourself said we are talking about a specific passage
here. God does not let humankind to suffer endlessly in torment and
he acts.

In the case of Bani Israel under the rule of David and Sulayman, or
the case of the Prophet and HIs Companions, they were blessed with
political authroity
and established order and mercy.


>
> >From our perspective as human beings, yes. God's
> actions appear completely arbitrary, because His
> motive is the love He has for His people.

You do not understand. We, like you said, are talking about a
SPECIFIC passage. If the rest of the Bible says God loves us because
he loves us, does not mean anything with respect to the passage we are
talking about. The Old Testament says that God numbered them down
because he did not want Israel to take the glory all for itself. Now
the point I said was that even in their orignal numbers, they still
were not even close to their enemy in strength. How could God's glory
be affected? From a Muslim perspective, this is actually a case of
the nationalist zealousness of the author relating the story. Israel
is put ahead of God.


>
> Are you talking about the communication of God to
> Saul (which is only implied, not directly relayed
> to us), or are you talking about the communication
> of the story as a whole to Muhammad? If you read
> the entire passage, you will notice that God does
> not utter one word as a character in the story.

The Quran is relating what God wants through the Prophet, i.e.
speaking on behalf of God. The same Prophet says "God will test
you..." meaning God is active.

That phrase, taken by
> itself, is so weak and ambiguous that without the
> context you might wonder, who defeated whom?

That is because of translation. The Quran uses it first to describe
the quickness of the defeat. The word also implies not just by God's
command, but implies facilitation. Third, the phrase gives total
victory to God. The next phrases refer to the means in which God
facilitated it.

> You keep repeating the word "jealousy" as if it
> were a nasty word. Yes, God wanted to take all
> the glory for the battle -- but WHY? Because by
> taking the initiative and taking the glory, He was
> displaying His love for His people in a much more
> dramatic way.
>

Look, either way the army would still be greatly outnumbered. The
children of Israel were veing persecuted and were driven out of their
homes. They were not in any way a challenge to the military supremacy
of the Philistines. There was absolutely no point in numbering down
the army because of a perceived threat of taking the glory. The glory
still would have been there. How is it love that sincere people are
left out of a battle that they desire to participate in?


Peace be upon you


asimm...@yahoo.com

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Jan 17, 2002, 9:32:48 PM1/17/02
to
>
> You have mixed up some of your facts (which some
> might say the Qur'an does as well since we see
> elements of three Bible stories just in verse
> 249).

Peace be upon you

Which ones? The only similarity is the test of the river, and if one
closely analyzes it as down below, even that does not stand. Even if
they were similar, It is nothing strange that testing by a river could
actually be used more than once. This is no way implies mixing up of
stories.


Gideon was not a king, and God did not
> select him as a king, nor did Gideon ever actually
> accept the crown (although the people wanted to
> make him king, and he did accept some regal
> privileges). The persistent request of the
> people, and God's relenting to their request
> applies to the ascension of Saul to the throne of
> Israel, which is recorded in the book of 1 Samuel.

The same case happened with respect to Gideon. The Israelites
requested that God help them from the persecution that they were
facing from the hands of the Medianities and other various tribes.
God answered their prayer through Gideon. In this case also, it was a
specific request by God to help them. In fact, in the same verse of
Judge, the trials and tribulations that the Israelites were facing was
because they had turned to idol-worship. Gideon's father had built an
altar to Baal.

The Quranic narration of the test is to see who was displined and who
Saul could actually count on. I had originally misread the ayahs
themselves. The point is that Saul wanted to find out who he could
actually count on through discipline and obedience. Nowhere in these
ayhs does it say that those same that gulped down were expelled from
the army. In fact, the statement of dismay was from those same who
drank from the river. The belivers showed their courage and
perseverance, and the Quran relates their attitude. One of the main
points is that it relates directly to the situation of the Prphet, His
Companions, and those among the people of Medina who were hypocrites.


> But the passage in Judges 7 takes place long
> before Saul is born.

Whether or not that is the case, they both originated out of a request
>from their being persecuted constantly by opposing tribes. In this
specific case it was the Medianites who play the central story. In the
case of Samuel in the Old Testament and the Quranic version, the king
was a request to fight the enemies after the Israelites were facing
persecution and were expelled from their homes.

> When God did anoint kings for Israel, the king was
> responsible before God to lead the people in the
> ways of His covenant with Israel. God objected to
> kings in large part because they would have
> significant power to lead the people astray from
> His covenant.
>

Eithe way, the appointment happened at the continual persistence of
the Israelis. It actually originated through the request of the
Israelites themselves.


>
> You are ever so subtlely changing the topic here,
> and also misrepresenting my previous comments. I
> have not tried to portray the victory in the
> Qur'an as a result of human strength, and I have
> always acknowledged that Talut and David won the
> victory by the favor of Allah. All I have done is
> pointed out that the favor of Allah, which won the
> battle for them, came as a result of their faith
> and courage, etc.

Show me from the text where it says that those that drank from the
water were expelled. The Quran says explicitly that it was his
favour. A favour implies that one is not really deserving of
something but is granted it anyways.

In other words, God responded
> to and honored their efforts. By contrast the
> depiction from Judges shows God raising the people
> up through Gideon, and cutting their numbers down
> to a miniscule size, all to demonstrate His love
> for them by giving them a victory they could not
> win for themselves -- even if they had been
> inclined to try.
>

The Old Testament says explicitly that the narrowing down of the army
was a result of God not wanting to Israelis to proclaim that victory
was a result of their own strength.

First, this is strange considering that the original request for God's
help was made by the Israelis. They recognized their own weaknesses
after continual persecution, and called upon God for help. It is also
strange considering that the Israelis were carrying, i.e. torches and
jars. How could anybody in their right mind claim strength for
themselves, when they had no weapons to fight such a massive army.

Second, the original army of the Israelies would still have been
greatly outnumbered by the Medianties and other tribes, who according
to the Old Testament filled the horizons.

Third, the first act of narrowing down the army was by letting those
that had fear in their hearts to leave. The Lord then notices that
the army is "still to great", so he narrows the army even further down
through a specific method.

Fourth, this method can in no way be characterized as a test. It
would only be a test if the people knew about it. Discipline means
obeying the orders. If there is no order, and people drink as much
water as they desire, then there can be nothing at all wrong in this.
The methodlogy was arbitrary.


> >
> > > This makes a lot of sense. But the text does
> not portray Talut's words as a
> > > command. It portrays them as if he is
> offering the men a choice. If it is
> > > a choice, using the method of drinking as a
> "test" makes no sense, but if it
> > > is a command, then given the right
> circumstances it could make a lot of
> > > sense. Thanks.
> >

The verses says God will test you... The nature of this was to
determine those who would fulfill the orders of the command.

> In Judges it is true that those who lacked
> strength and discipline could also drink like
> dogs, but they didn't know that drinking that way
> was a free ticket home! Is there some other way
> to explain this so that you will understand and
> accept this fundamental difference here?
>

First, they already had there free ticket home. Those that had fear
in their hearts were allowed to leave.

Second, in cannot be a test of discipline if their was no order to
obey. How can one argue that it was to determine who was disciplined
to obey the commands, when there was no command? If a person comes to
a river in the searing heat, and is dead tired, and is NOT commanded
at all with regards to the river, would it not be allowed to drink as
much as one wants?

Third, the method in the Quran was one of obeying orders, for God was
going to test them with the river as related by Saul. The necessary
outomce of the test was to know who was among the people of Saul, and
who was not. The Quran then relates the nature of the people who had
true imaan and belief, those that did not drink from the river more
than allowed were the courageuous ones.


> Judges mentions the same sort of test of the
> army's will to fight that the Qur'an incorporates
> into the drinking test. But in Judges the test of
> the will is separate from the test of discipline
> at the water. It is mentioned in chapter 7 verse
> 3 where the Lord tells Gideon to send those who
> are afraid home. And 22,000 of the 32,000 men
> left Gideon. Each and every one of the men who
> left admitted fear, but that doesn't mean they
> were all telling the truth. They could leave for
> any reason they wished, including or excluding
> fear, as long as they understood that leaving
> branded them with cowardice. The test of
> discipline was administered only to the 10,000 men
> remaining who were willing to fight. So although
> you have made your point very well here (and in
> previous posts too), your point is missing the
> mark.
>

This is not true. The Old Testament says explicitly that the method
to narrow down the army even further was part of the original plan.
That is why after narrating that God did not want the Israelies to
claim that they gained victory through their own strength, and then
allowing those with fear in their hearts to leave, he said to Gideon
in effect "there are still too many". This is when the river
methodology was adopted. That can even imply that sincere ones were
eliminated despite wanting to take part in the Battle. Is this is
case of unmerited favour or arbitrary action?


Eric

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Jan 19, 2002, 5:25:44 AM1/19/02
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<asimm...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:a25tv8$ht5$1...@samba.rahul.net...

>
> Look, either way the army would still be greatly outnumbered. The
> children of Israel were veing persecuted and were driven out of their
> homes. They were not in any way a challenge to the military supremacy
> of the Philistines. There was absolutely no point in numbering down
> the army because of a perceived threat of taking the glory. The glory
> still would have been there.

You are exactly right, which is what makes this a great expression of God's
regard for His people.

> How is it love that sincere people are
> left out of a battle that they desire to participate in?

Let us accept this premise as a key foundation for understanding the lesson:
Victory belongs to the Lord regardless of numbers. Three hundred can beat
one hundred and thirty-five thousand, just as one hundred and thirty-five
thousand can beat three hundred; but neither army can beat the other except
by Allah's will.

When the greater beats the lesser he sees no need to praise God for
victory -- it was the natural course of events. When the lesser beats the
greater he might see the need to praise God for the victory -- depending in
part on the degree of disparity between him and the opponent. But when 300
men beat 135,000 the need to give God glory is blatantly obvious.

Now, as you said, it is undeniably true that God gets glory whether Israel's
number is 10,000 or 300. But every man removed represented a proportionate
increase in the amount of glory God receives. Naturally this prompts the
question: Why would God want so much glory? Is God so concerned about
impressing man with His ability to crush armies? That doesn't make any
sense, just as you have said over and over again. Why would the Creator of
the worlds want to impress a creature with His might on a mere battlefield?
It doesn't make sense. But what if God's purpose was to show the depths of
His love for His people? Would this be a good way to do it? And would it
not be more clearly demonstrated (as a simply matter of degree) if He made
the fact of His intervention even more blatantly obvious by reducing their
numbers to a ridiculous size? And what if He plucked his represented from
his hiding place by paying him a personal visit (the Angel of the Lord,
6:11)? And what if this leader were so timid that he hid from an angry
crowd behind the protection of his father (6:30,31)? And what if this
leader, despite the visitation of the angel required confirmation from God
on at least three separate occasions before the battle (6:36, 39; 7:10ff)?
And what if God won the victory before they drew their swords (7:22)? All
of these things serve to emphasize and draw out the point that God was
acting on behalf of His people in an overwhelming display of His favor for
them.

God made this brazen display of His affection for Israel even though, as
chapter six emphasizes, Israel was still up to her neck in idolatry. And in
chapter 8 we see that Gideon led the people back to idolatry. That is where
the "unmerited love" aspect of the lesson really comes into play. Israel
clearly deserved to suffer more punishment from the
Midianites/(Philistines), but God chose a man from the house of a leading
idolater to lead the people to victory under extraordinary circumstances.
If this is not a display of unmerited favor, what is?

I hope that my Muslim friends in this forum can come to appreciate and
accept unmerited favor. I feel (perhaps mistakenly) that a reluctance to
embrace unmerited favor is part of the reason this thread became so
controversial.

Maybe it was an unfair comparison to begin with, given that the two passages
in the two books are obviously written in such different contexts, styles,
and for different purposes. And maybe I should not have cast it as such a
significant conflict between the two books. But hopefully you can
understand why I prefer to read this particular story from the Bible as
opposed to the Qur'an. I accept that there are many lessons from both
versions. But I prefer the Bible for the perspective it gives to the story,
more than for the style of its telling.


> Peace be upon you

And also to you.


Eric

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Jan 26, 2002, 10:21:29 PM1/26/02
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<asimm...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
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> >
> > You have mixed up some of your facts (which
some
> > might say the Qur'an does as well since we see
> > elements of three Bible stories just in verse
> > 249).
>
> Peace be upon you
>
> Which ones? The only similarity is the test of
the river, and if one
> closely analyzes it as down below, even that
does not stand. Even if
> they were similar, It is nothing strange that
testing by a river could
> actually be used more than once. This is no way
implies mixing up of
> stories.

Peace be upon you.

I hope you don't mind if I use this traditional
Muslim greeting from time to time. Some others in
this newsgroup may think it an effort to put more
sheep's clothing on this wolf, but it is intended
as nothing more than an expression of good will.

My apologies for not answering this question
sooner. The three Bible stories that share
certain (small and vague) similarities with Surah
2:249 are found in Judges 7 (as we have been
discussing), 1 Samuel 14, and 1 Samuel 17.
Probably the best known story of the Old Testament
for most Christians is David and Goliath, which is
found in 1 Samuel 17. 1 Samuel 14 is a story of
war between Israel under the leadership of King
Saul and their old enemies the Philistines.
Israel was, of course, greatly outnumbered. And,
of course, God had intervened on their behalf to
bring them victory. But Saul had placed the
people under an oath not to eat any food until
evening after he had taken vengeance on his
enemies. So basically in a fit of piety Saul had
made Israel give hot pursuit to her enemies on an
empty stomach. Verse 24 describes the people as
"distressed" that day because of the oath. In
other words they were exhausted.

In Surah 2:249 there is the testing at the water,
which is like the testing under Gideon in Judges
7. Then you have the people saying "we have no
strength to fight Goliath and his forces," which
is like the "distress" the men of Israel
experienced under Saul when they were pursuing the
Philistines. It is further a parallel because
their lack of strength (both in Surah 2:249 and in
1 Sam. 14:24) was caused by a command from (or
through) Saul. Then of course you have the
mention of Goliath, whose story is told in 1
Samuel 17.

None of this proves anything, nor is it intended
to. But I appreciated the way you took the time
to ask the question -- showing a little interest
in the things that are sacred to me. And I wanted
to answer at least this one question.


> The Quran says explicitly that it was his
> favour. A favour implies that one is not really
deserving of
> something but is granted it anyways.

Thank you for your insights into this. Your help
with the Arabic has been greatly enlightening. It
is the kind of thing I came to this newsgroup to
learn.


> First, this is strange considering that the
original request for God's
> help was made by the Israelis. They recognized
their own weaknesses
> after continual persecution, and called upon God
for help.

It is true that Israel cried out to God in their
distress, but it is not clear that this was a
request for help (Judges 6:6). It could have been
nothing more than intense complaining, which might
explain God's original response -- a rebuke from
an un-named prophet (6:7-10). Then God went to
the household of a leading idolater (6:25-32), and
picked his cowardly son (v.27) to lead Israel to
victory over Midian.


> Fourth, this method can in no way be
characterized as a test. It
> would only be a test if the people knew about
it.

I hear what you are saying, and agree with you up
to a point. Perhaps "test" isn't the best word,
but it will have to do.

What is a test? In my own classroom experience
there are at least three different relationships
between the course material and the methods of
testing. Sometimes a teacher will give lectures
that are frequently interrupted with the
statement: "This [or that] will be on the test."
Everything you need to know about the test can be
learned from these teacher's lectures. Sometimes
a teacher will give lectures, and even identify
certain things that will be on the test; but he
also warns you to read the outside reading because
that will also be covered on the test. When you
show up on the day of the test if you haven't been
diligently reading the outside reading, you will
fail the test. And finally there are pop quizzes.
Sometimes these are as hard as any test, but
sometimes teachers will give these as nothing more
than a spot check of attendance, and the question
will be something like, "Who did our football team
play last Saturday?" or "What is your name?" I
had one professor who would spend a few extra
minutes at the beginning of class talking about
his personal sports passion, the Houston Oilers
football team. If at the end of class you could
tell him who won the previous weekend's Oilers
game you would get extra credit. All you had to
do to get that extra credit was show up to class
on time, because he was telling everyone the
answer to the quiz at the beginning of class.

I will have to agree with you that the testing at
the water in Surah 2:249 is indeed a test. And it
is granted that the test at the water shows the
discipline of the men in the army. Given the
thirst that military exercises in a Palestinian
climate will cause, any invitation to drink is an
opportunity to see military discipline break down.
But I still say there was an extra dimension to
the test from the Qur'an. Someone who possessed
all the discipline he needed to drink only a
palmful of water, could conceivably decide that he
didn't want to be in Saul's army and choose to
drink to his heart's content. Having made that
choice he would no longer be "of" Saul. He would
be mustered out of the army for that lack of
discipline or perhaps insubordination(?). To me,
that makes the test in the Qur'an comparable to
the pop quiz where the answer is given before the
class lecture starts. If you were there on time,
all you have to do is decide whether or not you
want the extra credit, and write down the answer
given you at the beginning of class. That doesn't
necessarily make it any less of a test. The
professor decides how much credi