Pork and the universal rôle of the Qur’an

September 16, 2006 at 4:17 pm (Arabic, Culture, Hebrew, History, Islam, Judaism, Religion, Religions, Theology)

I wrote about pork a few days ago. I’d now like to explain something about Islam and the Muslim paradigm: the belief by Muslims that God gave universal edicts, which everyone should follow and which are separate from those edicts incumbent upon Muslims.

It is true that Islam believes that Islam is incumbent on everyone, and that anyone who has rejected Islam (by not converting) is rebelling against God. (Recall that Muslims believe that every person is born a Muslim, so not being a Muslim is by default having rejected Islam, whether consciously or not.) As such, one can say that Islam’s edicts are universal, that Islam’s commandments are incumbent, or should be, on everyone. Nevertheless, Islam recognizes that certain edicts are incumbent on Muslims only and others are for everyone.

For example, the Pillars of Islam and Faith (أركان الإسلام والإيمان, arkān al-islām wa-l-īmān) are incumbent on Muslims only. Thus, the five daily prayers, religious tax(es), and pilgrimage are promoted for Muslims only. (And in the case of the last of them, only Muslims may perform it.) This is because Muslims believe they were revealed for the benefit of Muslims only, and that the benefit therefrom are primarily spiritual rather than material (or, as in the case of the religious tax(es), for the benefit of the Muslim community only). They are intrinsically for Muslims.

On the other hands, Muslims believe that certain edicts, commandments, and rules were revealed for the benefit of all of humanity. One example is the prohibition of murder: certainly this is for all people and not only Muslims. But other aspects, such as:
– gambling (ميسر, maysir, which refers to a specific method of gambling involving head-less and feather-less arrows, although this is taken to as a metonymy, referring to gambling in general)
– alcoholic beverages (خمر, khamr – there has been debate and disagreement on what exactly is meant by khamr)
– pork (لحم الخنزير, laHm al-khinzīr, “the meat of swine”)
are prohibited because they are believed to be bad, evil, and unhealthy for everyone.

I will try to explain this further by way of contrast. In Judaism, pork (הַחֲזִיר, ha-khazīr, “swine” – hmmmmm, I wonder where the Arabs got their word khinzīr from? what does it sound like?) is prohibited (see Leviticus 7:7 (from a Hebrew-English source) and Deuteronomy 14:8 (from a Hebrew-English source)). Although many Jews believe that this is because pork is unhealthy (see trichinoisis), the prohibition, like other commandments given by God, exists to separate Israel from the other nations of the world. In the commandments given by God in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, God says, literally, (טָמֵא הוּא לָכֶם, tamei hu lakhem, “he is unclean/impure to/for you”) – in exactly the same words. Thus, the separation of Israel from the other nations via the prohibition of pork occurs on two levels: one is culinary (they are forbidden to eat its meat) and the other is more tactile and deals with purity laws. As God commands and expects Israel to keep itself pure (by following the various laws and commandments related to purity), Israel must keep itself utterly separated from anything having to do with pigs. Mere contact with one (or its meat or its skin, and so on) would render the person unclean, upon whom would become incumbent to purify himself/herself. In this latter issue, there is no issue of health or fitness, per se, but rather one of separation. There’s nothing unhealthy about pigs’ skin, but it is considered impure. Thus, the prohibitions related to swine concern God’s desire to separate Israel from the rest of the nations. This is why even though pork can be consumed today under more healthy conditions than existed in the past (and, as some say, may have prompted various groups to prohibit pork), pork is still prohibited to Jews because the prohibition is not concerned with health or sickness at all. Furthermore, while God did establish prohibitions on pork, according to Judaism they are meant only for God’s people and not the rest of the world. Indeed, if the rest of the world stopped eating pork, it would defeat the purpose of the commandments by God to His people.

On the other hand, Muslims believe that God prohibited pork because it is unhealthy. There is an element of impurity involved, as in Judaism, but the concept of purity and impurity is also taken as God’s way of ensuring health and sanitation. Thus although non-Muslims (except Jews) eat pork, they shouldn’t. The same goes with gambling and drinking: people shouldn’t do it. Unlike the canonical prayers and pilgrimage, the benefit from refraining from pork is not spiritual (other than what reward one gets from obeying God) but rather that one will not get sick. Same with gambling and alcoholic beverages.

Muslims also believe that pigs are intrinsically and essentially impure. Notice that in Torah, God says that pork is “unclean to you” (“you” referring to Israel); He doesn’t say that it is intrinsically unclean or unclean to other peoples or nations. Muslims believe that pigs are essentially unclean, and so unclean, impure, and unhealthy to and for all people, not just Muslims. This is also why even though pork can be consumed today under healthier and safer conditions than existed in the past, pork and all matters related with and to pigs are still prohibited and should be prohibited. Eliminating parasites from pork doesn’t render the pig itself clean, pure, or healthy. Muslims can become pretty inventive in providing reasons and “facts” why pigs are intrinsically unclean, impure, unhealthy, and generally abominable. Some of these justifications and “facts” are insanely ridiculous.

A cousin told me that when he was attending a university in Pakistan styled after American universities and their standards and affiliated with an American university (which wasn’t exactly true, but that’s besides the point), one of his professors (all empoyees were Pakistani, by the way) taught that because pigs are dirty and engage in homosexual sex, they have AIDS, which is why there is so much AIDS in the West: because they consume pork. Suffice it to say that Muslims cannot run out of reasons, “facts,” justifications, and other inventive propaganda to explain why pigs still remain unclean, impure, unhealthy, and abominable.

Of course, the same goes with alcohol: it is considered to be essentially impure. Yet, they drink it. Maybe because drinking alcoholic beverages won’t turn one into a grape or sheaf of wheat or potato, whereas (as is also quite often said) eating pork will turn one into a pig, if not pig-like.

Anyway, back to the original point: Muslims view certain edicts by God (commanding some things, permitting some things, prohibiting some things) as incumbent on all people, not just Muslims. This is explained as being something essential to the matter at hand and as not having to do with spiritual benefits, which are reserved only for Muslims. This is explained as God’s explanation to the world of the way things are, restoring or reëmphasizing truths or facts. In this way, not only is Islam universal in that everyone should submit to God but it is universal in that it teaches intrinsic and essential truths and facts. Unlike Torah, wherein such discussions have a spiritual purpose and, in many cases, do not exist to explain the world, the Qur’an (and other revelations from God in Islam) are said to exist to explain the world (which is one reason why Muslims bend over backwards to prove the Qur’an actually does describe scientific or geological facts). Whereas the Bible (Jewish and Christian) is mainly a guidebook for the Faithful, the Qur’an in addition to being a guidebook is also a factbook. This would also explain why the Qur’an is considered untouchable by criticism. Once someone reveals flaws in the “facts” presented in the Qur’an, its relevance, absolute authority, majesty, and divinity is impugned if not diminished or abolished. If the Qur’an is the word of God and it is shown that the Qur’an contains a false statement, then it means God made a mistake or He was lying, in which case God’s revelations would be suspect, in which case Islam topples over.

And this, my beloved friends, is what concerns Muslims so much. I hope this boring lecture has been of some edification. I certainly enjoyed writing it!

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26 Comments

  1. Frank J. said,

    Thank you. That was quite educational actually. I’ll have to remember linking this because I think a lot of people would be interested in this discussion so it seems people (at least me) tend to know few concrete facts about the Muslim faith.

    What are some of the other “facts” presented in the Koran other that about pork being unclean?

  2. Zia Sheikh said,

    I am an imam in a mosque in the USA.
    It’s quite clear to me that you have an agenda to criticize Islam. Otherwise on the one hand it’s acceptable to you that the Torah (accepted by Muslims to be a scripture from God) forbids pork, and yet you cannot accept that the Quran forbids it.
    From what I understand of the Christian teachings, Christians are not supposed to eat pork either because of the rulings in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, but apparently St.Paul allowed the Christians to eat it because of a dream or a vision that he had, “allowing” them to do so.
    Also, your point about alcohol being unclean, just like pork, and yet people drink it baffles me even further. Drinking is not accepted as a social norm by Muslims. Some may be “closet drinkers”, but Muslims do not drink.
    By the way, the Quran doesn’t say anything about non-Muslims not eating pork, and I challenge you to show me the verse that says so. Neither does the Quran give scientific facts about it, although Muslims try to determine the reason behind the ruling by presenting scientific research, which to me is quite reasonable.
    Just like the Torah (according to what you said about the Torah), the Quran deems pork unclean.
    And you conveniently forget to mention that Muslims are allowed to eat animals that are slaughtered by the People of the Book, that is Jews and Christians.
    “This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).”
    All in all, it’s extremely clear that you have a bias against Islam, and hence have nothing positive to say about it, even though it’s staring you in the face.
    I pray that Allah SWT guides you back to the truth, amin.

  3. keith said,

    In response to the comments by the Imam:

    First, I didn’t see this post as anti-Islam. Instead, I saw it as explaining something that Muslims take as immutable fact. I can see where you would interpret the comment that “MUlsims can’t run out of reasons,” but no one who takes something as an article of faith will run out of reasons for defending that position. This post was intended, I think, mostly to educate Christians about the basic ideology behind an important aspect of Muslim faith.

    Second, there are a few points in the New Testament (the culmination of the Christian bible) that give Christians “permission” to consume pork. These aren’t simply the dream of St. Peter relayed in the book Acts of the Apostles wherein Peter has a dream in which God displays on a sheet all creatures of the earth and says that he may eat of them all (including the pig and shellfish, both of which are prohibited in Judaism).

    The more important scriptural reference comes from the Gospel of St. Mark (Mark 7:18-23):

    “And he saith to them: So are you also without knowledge? understand you not that every thing from without, entering into a man cannot defile him: Because it entereth not into his heart, but goeth into the belly, and goeth out into the privy, purging all meats? But he said that the things which come out from a man, they defile a man.
    For from within out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile a man. ”

    For Christians, Jesus Christ is not a prophet, but the promised Messiah, the Son of the Living God, co-eternal and part of the three-person Godhead. (The persons, one God. It is the central mystery of the monotheistic Christian belief). Therefore, the words of Jesus are the words of God, because Jesus is God, not just a prophet or voice of God. When Jesus uttered these words, he eliminated any prohibition on what man eats or drinks, as nothing that comes into a man through his belly can defile him.

    I hope that helps.

  4. Troy said,

    Mr. Zia is mistaken in that it was Peter who had the vision where God made it acceptable to eat all animals (clean and unclean). It was also a form of analogy saying that, not only the Jews (clean) were to receive the Gospel, but now the Gentiles (unclean) could be hear the good news about Jesus as well. I also believe that the eating laws were geared more towards good health.

  5. Egghead said,

    Zia Sheikh,
    I believe you are referring to a dream that St. Peter (not St. Paul) had, by which God revealed that he could eat in the company of non-Jews. This led to the conversion of Cornelius to Christianity.

    For the record, the reason why Christians are allowed to eat any food is from the teachings of the Lord Jesus Himself. He taught that it is not what enters a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out – He was speaking of the evil words and actions a man might do, which is the cause of uncleanliness and impurity.

  6. Mahsheed said,

    Hi Muslihoon,

    Congratulations for leaving Islam, so did I!

    I found an interesting link that I should look into when I get a chance, that it is stating that the arabs were copying the jews at least 200 years before Islam. If this is true I think it is huge.

    Anyways I thought you’d be interested.

    (from http://chattablogs.com/aionioszoe/archives/027471.html)

    Let’s first look at Church historian Sozomen. Writing in the early part of the fifth century, about two hundred years prior to the rise of Islam, Sozomen notes:

    This is the tribe which took its origin and had its name from Ishmael, the son of Abraham; and the ancients called them Ishmaelites after their progenitor. As their mother Hagar was a slave, they afterwards, to conceal the opprobrium of their origin, assumed the name of Saracens, as if they were descended from Sara, the wife of Abraham. Such being their origin, they practice circumcision like the Jews, refrain from the use of pork, and observe many other Jewish rites and customs. If, indeed, they deviate in any respect from the observances of that nation, it must be ascribed to the lapse of time, and to their intercourse with the neighboring nations. Moses, who lived many centuries after Abraham, only legislated for those whom he led out of Egypt. The inhabitants of the neighboring countries, being strongly addicted to superstition, probably soon corrupted the laws imposed upon them by their forefather Ishmael. The ancient Hebrews had their community life under this law only, using therefore unwritten customs, before the Mosaic legislation. These people certainly served the same gods as the neighboring nations, honoring and naming them similarly, so that by this likeness with their forefathers in religion, there is evidenced their departure from the laws of their forefathers. As is usual, in the lapse of time, their ancient customs fell into oblivion, and other practices gradually got the precedence among them. Some of their tribe afterwards happening to come in contact with the Jews, gathered from them the facts of their true origin, returned to their kinsmen, and inclined to the Hebrew customs and laws. From that time on, until now, many of them regulate their lives according to the Jewish precepts. Some of the Saracens were converted to Christianity not long before the present reign. They shared in the faith of Christ by intercourse with the priests and monks who dwelt near them, and practiced philosophy in the neighboring deserts, and who were distinguished by the excellence of their life, and by their miraculous works. It is said that a whole tribe, and Zocomus, their chief, were converted to Christianity and baptized about this period, under the following circumstances: Zocomus was childless, and went to a certain monk of great celebrity to complain to him of this calamity; for among the Saracens, and I believe other barbarian nations, it was accounted of great importance to have children. The monk desired Zocomus to be of good cheer, engaged in prayer on his behalf, and sent him away with the promise that if he would believe in Christ, he would have a son. When this promise was confirmed by God, and when a son was born to him, Zocomus was initiated, and all his subjects with him. From that period this tribe was peculiarly fortunate, and became strong in point of number, and formidable to the Persians as well as to the other Saracens. Such are the details that I have been enabled to collect concerning the conversion of the Saracens and their first bishop. (Ecclesiastical History 6.38)

    Note what Sozomen details: a dependence upon the Jewish faith, and then a coversion of some of the Saracens to Christianity. This happened more than two centuries prior to the rise of Islam.

  7. Zia Sheikh said,

    I have a few questions/comments about the responses:
    1. The verse quoted from Mark doesn’t explicitly allow pork. For something that is such a major issue in the Old Testaments (Deutoronemy and Leviticus) to be overruled, shouldnt it be more specific? And is a dream really enough to overrule the rules of God?
    2. It still doesnt answer my question about why Muslihoon thinks its ok for the Torah to forbid pork, but not the Quran. Again, I will accuse him of bias and an agenda against Islam and wait for a response, which I don’t think is forthcoming.
    3. Saracen doesn’t come for SARA, whom Muslims hold in high esteem. It is from the word “Sharqi’een” which means Easterners. I don’t believe any Muslim is ashamed that Ishmael was born from Hagar, a slave-woman. If she had been a bad woman, or her being a slave was an issue, why would Abraham marry her. The Book of Genesis clearly says that Abraham took her to be his wife.
    4. I really don’t understand the whole point behind Mahsheed’s comment. We believe that Christianity was the true religion before it got changed, so any Saracens adopting Christianity two centuries prior to Islam, there’s nothing wrong with it.
    5. As the same God sent Moses and the Israelite Prophets, wouldnt there logically be some “dependence” as you put it, on the Jewish faith?

  8. Muslihoon said,

    Imām Sāhib: a response is forthcoming. It takes me some time to respond to so many remarks.

  9. Mahsheed said,

    This is in answer to Zia’s questions. I like Zia because it’s a big relief to me to hear from a committed Muslim who doesn’t hate someone like me or our host.

    1. This is hard to answer in a short paragraph, but I’ll try.
    Judeaism is not meant to be a universal religion. If you notice, Jews don’t proselytize. This is because they were never given the instruction to. They were a people set apart by God for a specific purpose. What was that purpose? To set the stage for God to become man (called the incarnation) to reconcile mankind to Himself. So God chose an utterly average race of people (and because of the promise to Abraham), and weaned them off of the idolatry, and nurtured them until after about a 1000 years they were ready for the next step. The laws about ritual purity and not eating pork were not given for the sake of hygiene, they were intended by God to prevent Jews from mixing in with their neighbors. They were a people set apart. And even this was very difficult for them and it was a long, difficult process for them. So God had to condescend to their level, similar to the way we raise our children. So God forbade pork, but tolerated polygamy, and allowed divorce. When everything was ready (in the fullness of time) God became man in the person of Jesus. Even then he couldn’t just tell His disciples His identity; He had to break it to them gradually. If you notice another fact, Jesus doesn’t have a book, have you ever wondered why? Anyways, Jesus being true God and true man, came not to abolish but to fulfil the old Law. So the purpose of Judeaism was fulfilled, and so the old purity laws are not necessary to the New Covenant. In the New Covenant, the Law is stamped on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, Jesus also rescinded divorce for any reason, so some things were easier, and some became harder. Because now, even thinking about adjultery is a sin and we are commanded to be perfect “like our Father in Heaven is perfect”. So we are commanded to trascend the law. It’s actually a lot more diifficult because we have to change interiorly.
    In addition to the above comments, there is also the parable about pouring new wine into old wineskins and a few more that I can’t remember.
    At this point you must be snorting and laughing at me. That’s ok, I’ll pray you understand, but this can only make sense if you can accept the underlying premise that Jesus is God. And faith is a gift from God, so only God can help you to make sense of it.

    2. I don’t have anything say here.

    3. I don’t know about the word saracen. My understanding of Genesis is that Abraham made a baby with Hagar, according to the custom of the time, but they probably weren’t married. I agree it doesn’t matter either way.

    4. The point that I’m interested in is that if this history is true, arabs were copying the Jews at least 200 years before Islam. (The christian part is besides the point to me.)
    That has lots of implications to the development of Islam.

  10. jarusalam Izreal said,

    I believe the sole purpose of banning the consumption of pork was simply because it is not healthy at all. Jews and Muslims are taught to diet themselves, for both health and spiritual discipline. As for Christians, it was Christ who sent demons into the pigs. For this reason alone, I know many Christians who have forbid themselves of pork. Plus, all meat these days is treated in ways that make them even more unhealthy, so it is wise for all people to limit how much they eat.

  11. Edward said,

    Zia,

    I think you are confused by a couple of points. Most of the Levtical laws listed in the Torah are laws specific to the Hebrews. They are not all applicable to all people. As the writer said, the issues regarding pork are specific to the Hebrews, not to all people.

    Your questions imply that Christians and Hebrews are the same. Let’s be clear. Not all Christians are Hebrews. And not all Hebrews are believers in Jesus as the Messiah. There are Hebrews who have accepted Jesus as the Messian. But there are also Christians who are gentiles. The Bible is quite clear about the distinction. I’d encourage you to read it.

    In Acts 15, there is a debate about whether gentiles should follow the Mosaic code. Many believed, as you do, that if they are to be accepted as “God’s people” they would need to follow all the laws of the Torah. Specifically the discussion was if gentiles need to be circumcised, as the Hebrews taught. But it was pointed out that God had already accepted these people as his own, and that God’s spirit was already present in them. Since GOD had accepted them as they are, it was clear that they needn’t do anything else. As Christians, we believe we are saved by grace through faith. That it is our faith in God and his Grace that saves us, not our acts. Because all of us fall short of living up to the law. No man can live his life and be blameless. This was the primary reason for Jesus’ death and resurection. That he would be an atonement for our trangressions against God and his laws. Since the atonement is complete, strict adherence to the laws are no longer required for salvation. In other words, God can now legally forgive us for screwing up.

    My questions for you Zia in response to yours,

    1) If a vision from God, which could be called a dream in certain circumstances, is not enough to overrule (I would say “clarify” the rules of God, why do you consider the Koran valid?

    2) Muslihoon simply said that the Mosaic law only applied to the Hebrews, and that it does not apply to all people. He didn’t say it doesn’t apply. In fact, most Messianic Hebrews still adhere to that law.

    3) You misread the scriptures. Sarai gave Hagar to Abraham to concieve a child. Hagar remained Sarai’s servant, and was never referred to as Abraham’s wife. At no point in the scripture is Hagar ever referred to as Abraham’s wife. The phrase you reference simply implies they had intercourse. In fact several verses later, God’s messenger tells Hagar who she is in submission to. It is not the wife of Abraham, but rather she is the servant of Sarai. “7The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” ”

    4) I tend to agree with you here. The fact that all 3 faiths have common roots shouldn’t suprise anyone who understand’s history. Its not a surprise there are things in common.

    5) The ‘dependance’ is that the Hebrews are the people chosen to deliver God’s salvation. Through them, Christ would come and offer salvation to all of God’s people. It is through their heritage that Christianity must be seen, but that does not mean that Christians must live in their heritage.

  12. Muslihoon said,

    jarusalam Izreal said:

    I believe the sole purpose of banning the consumption of pork was simply because it is not healthy at all.

    Sole purpose? This reveals you as a Muslim. Neither Christians nor Jews would have said such a thing, as the Bible makes it explicit why God prohibited pork, and it’s not because of health.

    Jews and Muslims are taught to diet themselves, for both health and spiritual discipline.

    Half correct. Muslims may have been taught to “diet themselves,” but the dietary commandments in Judaism exist solely to set Jews apart. There is no element of health involved.

    As for Christians, it was Christ who sent demons into the pigs. For this reason alone, I know many Christians who have forbid themselves of pork.

    First, that incident had no bearing whatsoever on the purity or impurity of pork. The pigs were around, and so the Lord utilized them. He did not send “demons into the pigs,” He “send demons into some pigs”.

    Second, you know many Christians who do so? I find that hard to believe. Those that do so are ignoring what has been written in The Acts of the Apostles, where God made all animals clean to eat, and all men clean to dine with.

    Plus, all meat these days is treated in ways that make them even more unhealthy, so it is wise for all people to limit how much they eat.

    Meat today has never been healthier.

  13. ktel said,

    With regards to the Torah’s being binding on the gentile, that is pretty much covered in the discussions on the circumcision of gentile Christians in the epistles, clarifying the messiah’s admontition that there is one overreachinbg law, to love your God, and to love your brother as yourself.

    Also, refer to the passage whree it is written that he who is not against us is with us. This is in diametrical opposition to the Koranic admonitions.

    Now I’ve got to turn up the Ramones.

  14. Zia Sheikh said,

    Responses to some of the above:
    1. If Jesus came “not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it” shouldn’t there be an emphasis on NOT eating pork, as was the law for the Hebrews? And I do know that there are Christians today who still don’t eat pork. So some do and some don’t follow the law that was “meant for the Hebrews”.
    2. Muslims ALSO believe that we are saved by God’s grace and Mercy, NOT by our actions. But we must follow the laws of God to be deserving of His mercy. There is a Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad) to that effect, where he said “Nobody would go to Paradise except through the Mercy of God. His Companions asked, not even you O Prophet of God? He said, not even me, except if God were to cover me with his Mercy”.
    3. Question is why go through all the hassle of getting himself/his son crucified to forgive everyone, Couldn’t he just forgive them, as Muslims believe that he can do to anyone?
    4. Answer to above question: The Quran wasn’t revealed in a dream. It was revealed while the Prophet Muhammad was awake. I have never come across any reference stating that the revelation of the Quran happened in a dream.
    5. Answer to above question: Genesis 16:3 clearly uses the word wife when describing Hagar’s relationship to Abraham, even though she may have been a slave-girl. Being a slave-girl/servant is not contrary to also being a wife.
    6. I still want to know why it’s okay for the Torah to forbid pork, but when the Quran does it, it’s a huge issue with some people here!

  15. Wickedpinto said,

    first.

    WHEE YAY WHEE!!!!

    You are hated by muslims who know less than you!?!?! That ROCKS! You are on the fast track to real hits!

    Second.

    Half correct. Muslims may have been taught to “diet themselves,” but the dietary commandments in Judaism exist solely to set Jews apart. There is no element of health involved.
    Also, at the time of the commandments, and the authoring of leviticus, the Jews were nomadic sheepherders, they could not care for sedentary animal husbandry creatures like cows or pigs. Also, the violent nature of wild pigs, and wild cattle, (the males) makes them less pleasent, or peaceful compared to the giving sheep. Sheep/mutton/lamb, is a MAJOR part of the jewish faith in their holy day rituals.

    As for the cleanliness of animals, in the case of SOME Jews, it is an adherrence to faith to their lord, to not eat pork. In the case of christians, it doesn’t exist, though I’m an atheist, (don’t burn me sheikh) I was raised catholic with a lutherin (spelling?) father. Christianity was founded at a time (christianity is basicaly reform judaism) when the world under the rule of the romans, so rapidly that the interpretations of the books of faith could not keep up. The “guilt” of the jewish orthodoxy is built on the book of Job, but even had job faltered, god would have forgiven him, that is in fact, one of the foundations of the teachings of the man named Jesus, who is titled Christ. Job onece asked, basicaly, “why me,” only to be ignored, yet he obeyed the laws of god anyway. Were job to falter, the enemy might have scored a point on god, but gud would have forgiven him anyways, after years of suffering, job was faithful.

    Much like the flood, where god said “you know?! Bad on me, not gonna do that again.” god did the same thing in the summation of the story of job.

    I totaly turned god, christ, job and satan into kids on the block, and this is prolly completely unreadable.

    Sorry.

  16. Mahsheed said,

    Zia,

    These are great comments.

    1. I can’t tell how much Bible you’ve read, but it’s clear you are imposing your Muslim-based suppositions on it and I understand. I will try to quote the Bible passages in the future. If you read the gospels you’ll notice that Jesus had some harsh words to say to the pharisees, the jewish leaders who were very scrupolous about the dietary laws but didn’t help their people. Christians are not commanded to eat pork or NOT eat pork, it doesn’t matter. Fulfilling the law doesn’t mean perserving it, it means that the law has served its purpose. It’s like a morgage that after 30 years has been paid off, it’s been fulfilled so you are no longer required to pay it. Jesus was critisized for healing on the Sabbath, as healing is considered ‘work’, He said don’t you know He is lord of the Sabbath. So this is like the computer administrator who has priveleges and sets the rules for others. See Matthew 15:10-20, “Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man… For out of theheart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander…”

    2. “Muslims ALSO believe that we are saved by God’s grace and Mercy, NOT by our actions. But we must follow the laws of God to be deserving of His mercy. ”
    No comment here except to say that the Christian understanding of grace is quite specific and not something I expect you to know as I didn’t. Grace is not synonomous with mercy is what I’m saying. The major difference is that the Muslim relationship with God is a master slave relationship, while for a Christian it’s that of a Father to a child. I had this problem as a Muslim that I felt like an orphan, I didn’t know God, I didn’t know if He loved me or hated me. If nothing bad happened to me, I didn’t know if He was favoring me or was ignoring me. If something bad happened to me, then He was punishing me, or was He? I didn’t know where I stood with Him. This is the nature of a master-slave relationship, not to ever know what God is up to, not to expect anything from HIm. As a Christian it’s different for me now. I KNOW God loves me, and through the revelation of Christ and His church, I know as much as a human being can know about the inner life of God. The major insight? GOD IS LOVE.

    3. Question is why go through all the hassle of getting himself/his son crucified to forgive everyone, Couldn’t he just forgive them, as Muslims believe that he can do to anyone?
    Ah yes, this is an excellent question. Jesus’s crucifixion is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. (I’ll find the quotes if you’re interested, 1 Corinthians). The short answer is that the crucifixion is where justice and mercy meet. For example, if you owe me money and can’t pay it back to me, I can forgive your debt, but the debt won’t disappear, now I’ll have to take the money out of my account or submit an insurance claim. Someone has to pay it. I can’t be just (get my money back) and have mercy on you at the same time, it’s one or the other. Now if you’ve read the Old Testament you’ll see the many laws about sacrifice. Jewish priests were required to sacrifice sheep every day (at least 2x a day) and on Saturdays and on holy days. These were called sin offerings consisting of sheep and other farm animals, grains, and other harvests, offered for their failures to observe the law. As muslims we have the concept of ghorbani, although we don’t know the theology behind it. They were not allowed to sacrifice their old and junky sheep or their lousy harvest, it had to be without blemish. A bad sacrifice is worse than no sacrifice and wouldn’t be accepted. Anyhoo, there aren’t enough sheep in the world to offer for our sins and God knew that, and He had a surprise in store for us. Only a perfect sacrifice could expiate all sin, so the pupose of Jesus coming to earth was to serve as that perfect sacrifice. When John the baptist saw Jesus, he pointed Him out and called Him “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” (John:1:29) Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross is enough to atone for all of humanity who ever lived and who ever will live, for ever and ever. It has opened the way to heaven for all of us, all we have to do is to accept it and want to be saved through it.

    (By the way, when He died, Jesus descended to the dead and opened Heaven for the righteous which up until then had been closed. I didn’t know this when I was muslim.)

    Zia, I beg you to pray on this and wrap your mind around it, what it would mean to know that God would love us this much to die for us. Could you not love God a bit more if you knew this were true? It’s too good to be true, and my heart tells me that it is true and Jesus showed me it is true, just as he’ll show you that it’s true if you ask). It is pure joy to live in such a universe and to be a creature of such a God. So the crucifixion is where justice and mercy meet, it is the happiest and most awesome truth in the world, if you dare to allow yourself to think it.

    5. Answer to above question: Genesis 16:3 clearly uses the word wife when describing Hagar’s relationship to Abraham, even though she may have been a slave-girl. Being a slave-girl/servant is not contrary to also being a wife.”
    It seems like it does bother you to think she wasn’t married to him. The evidence does show that she wasn’t married to him, it was a custom of the time that a barren women could let a slave make a baby in her place. Even traditionally Muslims will have relations with slaves without marriage. The child is still legitimate even if the mother is not married. It’s no biggie. Sarah regretted her decision bitterly especially since she went on to finally have her promised son when she was well into her 90’s.

    Mahsheed

  17. Zia Sheikh said,

    Thank you for your answers Mahsheed. I’m responding to them.
    1. This whole discussion started on Pork and its ruling. What I can’t get my head around is that if it’s clear cut forbidden, shouldnt there be a clear text allowing it if Christians do eat it. Maybe I’m using the Islamic rulings, because to rule something out as clear-cut as that, you need a similar clear-cut verse or saying from the Prophet.
    2. I find that people who differenciate between the “love/grace” of the Christian God and Allah are severely mistaken. Number 1, it’s the same God, In Arabic Christians, or in Arabic Bibles, the word Allah is used. Number 2, there are so many ahadith and verses from the Quran that are indicative of this. (God loves his servant 70 times more than his own mother/Indeed my mercy overpowers my anger etc etc). So people who convert to Christianity because of this reason are basically ignorant (please don;t be insulted) of true Islam. The very first verse of the Quran, is Bismillahirrahmanirraheem. You already know what that means.
    3. In this answer, you are merely giving the wisdom behind the crucifixion, as seen through Christian eyes. It doesn’t answer the question, why does God need to go through all this hassle, he can just forgive, can’t he?
    4. As for Hagar, it’s not an issue of feeling bad that she was a slave-girl. Genesis 16:3 clearly used the word wife.
    While we are on the subject of Genesis, Genesis is a fascinating book. It talks about the migration of Abraham, and says that from Ishmael will be born a great nation (17:20). Of course that can only mean Muslims. Or is there another explanation for that.

  18. Mahsheed said,

    Zia, I am enjoying our discussion very much.

    1. Zia, regarding the pork issue, we are both agreeing that you are viewing it from a Muslim perspective. It is clear that you are not comfortable with all the passages cited in the preceding comments as not being clear enough, even so I recommend you reread them plus the original post. If that still doesn’t help then try thinking of it as analagous to the concept of abrogation (sp?) in the Qur’an, were later revelations often supercede prior ones. You can then think of the New Testament abrogating the OT.
    Other points that I think will help is to recall to you that Judeaism was not a universal religion. The Jewish law was not given to neighboring nations, it was only given to the Jews, Judeaism has always been an inherited religion. God did not require anyone else to not eat pork and follow Jewish laws. The second point is regarding Judaism and Christianity in that the Scriptures are not the sole basis. The Scriptures are a part of the Sacred Tradition. Therefore, the Scriptures must always be interpreted in light of the Sacred Tradition. In Islam this is analagous to interpreting the Qur’an in light of Sunnah and hadith, etc. Therefore, it is a bit unfair for either of us to use the other person’s Scripture to prove points that are not supported in their Sacred Tradition.

    2. Don’t get me wrong about grace, my point there is that grace has a specific meaning that is different from its popular usage. Of course Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but our concepts of God are very different, and one of must be further from the truth in our concept of God. In Islam, the relationship to God is a master slave relationship. This is straight from the Qur’an. In Christianity it is a father-child relationship. This in itself has many many implications because a master no matter how merciful and loving is still not a father. A major difference in the perception of God is that in Christianity, God is thought to be bound by reason and justice. A common perception in Islam is that God is not bound to be reasonable or just or anything by our standards. In other words, Christians believe that God would never do something unjust because it is contrary to His nature, but Muslims commonly believe that anything God does is by definition just because He sets the rules. Another major difference is in Christianity, we believe God does not hate anyone, that hatered is not in His nature. But Muslims perceive God to hate people such as zionists, kaffirs, etc. So it’s ok to hate the enemies of Allah, to kill someone to send them to Hell. When a bad person dies the Muslim channels might report that so and so plopped into hell today. At the beginning of the revolution, some Iranian soldiers used to forcifully marry and rape young women prisoners so they wouldn’t be virgins when they were executed because they believed that all virgins go to heaven when they died and they wanted to make sure they went to Hell. Christians are forbidden from hating and are told to pray for and bless their enemies as Jesus did. Christians are told to hope that a bad person repented and was saved before they died. To wish for anyone to go to Hell is a sin against charity. Christians further believe that God doesn’t send people to Hell, people send themselves to Hell. Hell is not a punishment of sin, it is a natural consequence of rejecting God. While in Islam God sends evil doers to Hell. In Islam, God can be a tyrant like Saddam who everyone has to kiss up to or face dire consequences. Saddam could be nice to whomever he pleases, that is his perogative because he’s in power, or he could put whoever he pleases into the torture chambers, that is also his perogative. Because God is so unscrutable by Islamic perception, a person can never know where they stand with Him. They can hope in His mercy, but maybe they are hypocrites and God hates them.
    I’m sorry for my long uneven reply here, I’m just writing everything that I can think of to explain the difference. Please forgive me if anything I say offends you.

    3. This is a very important point, and I’ve read discussions of it. Theologians love to debate all aspects of the Redemption so I’ll repeat what I’ve read elsewhere. Sure, God could have merely forgiven, they say. But two things would be lost by that:
    First, merely forgiving would make us lose sight of the gravity of our sins. We are bodily creatures and we don’t see or feel or sense spirit. So morality doesn’t feel real to us because of it being so abstract. When we lie or steal it even kill it is easy for us to not apprehend how it affected our soul. So God had to train us from the very beginning in spiritual concepts by bringing spiritual concepts to our physical world. In Eden God commanded Adam and Eve to fashion animal skins to cover their nakedness after they had sinned. Theologians describe this as the beginning of the concept of sin-offerings. So God simply forgiving us can prevent us from an understanding of the moral universe. An example of this is if a government simply prints out money to cover every deficit, the value of the currency would quickly deteriorate. The second loss from this solution for us is that we wouldn’t have the physical proof that God loves us. Remember the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, this was a foreshadowing because God later on went on to sacrifice His own Son for our sakes, something He didn’t require of Abraham. The crucifixion is very satisfying proof that 1)sin is very bad and 2)God loves us very much.

    4. I googled this point to find information for you and realized that the discussion could be used to insult Muslims by denigrating Ismael. Woops I didn’t mean to go there. Yes they were married.
    “Of course that can only mean Muslims. Or is there another explanation for that.” Could be, but he could just be talking about the Arabs, people who physically descended from Ismael. Incidentally, the rest of the prophecy is here:
    He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and everyman’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.
    The Bible is fascinating, but like the Qur’an requires tafseer to be interpreted correctly. But it’s also fun to read as literature.

    Mahsheed

  19. Mahsheed said,

    Zia,

    In debating you I feel I’m in a lose lose position as it is impossible for me to debate you without denigrating your religion. Obviously we both know that having left Islam I firmly reject Islam, its prophet and its book. What I don’t know is the effect of this on you since I don’t know you. This is why it’s lose lose for me. If stuff that I say is angering you then nothing I say will persuade you. I’m not here to win debates, I couldn’t care less about it and i’m especially not here to increase your hatred.

    Therefore, I’d like to discontinue our debates, unless unless unless you write back to inform me that you are not enraged nor offended by my writings. You see, I need to know where I stand with people the same as with God. If you are not offended, then please be aware that I will also be bolder and more frank with you as well.

    Also, whether or not we continue the debate I’m devoting the next 9 days to praying for you and fasting for a few of those days starting today. I’ll be praying for your conversion and salvation that God will reveal Himself to you and you may be brought to the light of Christ. I’ll be asking the angels for help. I will also pray for your personal well-being and success, so if you have any specific intention (such as finding a wife or a job or solving some long-standing problem) just let me know and I’ll pray for that too.

    This is not any sort of test or anything. Obviously I’ll never know the results of how this will play out in your life, this side of Heaven.

    Mahsheed

  20. Zia Sheikh said,

    No offence taken. I could also carry on debating, as I said I am an Imam, and most of your answers can be answered by me. I just wish I had the time to engage further. Ramadan is coming up, and I will be extremely busy.
    I will answer the current set of statements anyway:
    1. Abrogation in Islam requires clear texts, that’s why I was saying that there should be a clear text to abrogate pork, as of course I believe the Torah and Injil were sent by the same God that sent the Quran.
    2. The perception of God being unjust just “because he can” is unbelievably wrong. God is just.
    And the perception of God “hating” is also wrong. The word used in the Quran is “does not love”, which doesn’t mean hate.
    The Bible also talks about punsihments and God hating things (bad things of course, but nevertheless, hating), sometimes not making sense at all:
    “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” Exodus 34:7

    27 ” ‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. 29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.” Leviticus
    ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’ Numbers
    Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
    and their punishment would last forever. Psalm 81:15
    21 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole [a] beside the altar you build to the LORD your God, 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the LORD your God HATES. Deuteronomy
    The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul HATES. Psalm 11:5

    There are six things the LORD hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:

    17 haughty eyes,
    a lying tongue,
    hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
    feet that are quick to rush into evil,

    19 a false witness who pours out lies
    and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Psalms 16-19)

    It’s just not as black and white as the God of the Christians being all loving and the God of the Muslims hating(or at least the perceptions of them being like that)
    There’s nothing wrong with God disliking, or even hating bad things. In fact, it is only just that he does. But that doesn’t mean that one who has committed sins cannot turn in repentance to him. I could quote a bunch of verses and hadith to prove my point of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
    Finally, I really think that it is a case of wrong perception on our part if we simply cast God into a stereotyped God of a particular religion.
    And I would just like to emphasise that Muslims believe that “Al-Iman baynal-khawfi war-rajaa”, “Faith is between hope and fear”, that is hope in God’s mercy and forgiveness, and the fear of the gravity of our sins and possibly being punished for them.
    Having someone die on the Cross for our sins is basically a cop-out, and no doubt an encouragement for some people to continue sinning with the false hope that someone already took care of my forgiveness.

    Finally, please do continue to pray for me, as I will for you.

  21. Mahsheed said,

    Zia, Thank you for understanding. I take it to mean you aren’t angered by my remarks and I feel much better knowing that. That means we can continue with debating. I understand you’re going to be busy but we can certainly continue at a slower pace. That might give me more time to think out my replies and perhaps spell check.

    I realized a solution to my fear of offending you, from now on I’ll try to talk about Christianity only. If I do discuss Islam, I’ll be more careful and try not to get carried away.

    1. I brought up the concept of abrogation as an analogy, but it breaks down in important ways. If you will only accept as proof a passage saying it’s ok to eat pork, there is no such passage. Dietary rules are but a small part of the Law, (as it’s called), so logically speaking, the passage that describes the dream IS the proof. You can see the developments take place in Acts and the epistles (letters after Acts).

    2. Did you notice that every passage you quoted came out of the Old Testament? What did you find in the NT? I believe it’s called “condescending”. In the OT God is condescending to mankind, He is swooping down and expressing Himself at our level in terms we can understand. It is like how we baby talk to babies.
    In the NT God is raising us up to His level. That is because we are finally enabled (by His sacrifice) to be partakers in the divine nature. The two greatest commandments are now 1. love God with all your heart and all your mind and 2. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Loving means also forgiving any wrongdoing and non-Christians, by not having Jesus as the guide often have difficulty forgiving.

    In the psalms it says “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”. So in the OT we are trained to fear God, in the new we are enabled to love Him. Fear is the starting point.

    It’s not a stereotype, every religion has a particular concept of God. I remember every time there was an earthquake somewhere people would say it was punishment. If you don’t know where you stand with God then every situation will cause fear and uncertainty for you. In religions other than Christianity, suffering is for losers. Suffering is proof that God doesn’t care about us or hates us. In Christianity, suffering is embraced, we are called to take up our cross and follow God. We offer up our suffering to our Lord who willingly suffered for us. Suffering is holy and beautiful. Death has no fear for us, because our Lord overcame death.

    The Christian understanding is that God hates sin, He never hates his creatures. That is the meaning of the Christian phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner”. Without that understanding it is too easy to hate. Christianity is the only religion that has a mechanism to love, forgive, and suffer gladly and die for the love of God. You won’t find this combination anywhere else. And it all comes from Jesus crucified. Because Jesus loved, we love. Because Jesus forgave, we forgive. Because Jesus suffered, we suffer.
    As a Christian I know when I’ve been forgiven. Do you know why? First because I know that there is no sin I can commit that can’t be forgiven, and second because I pray every day and ask God to forgive me, as I forgive others who tresspass against me. As long as I am sorry and repent of my sins and forgive others who have hurt me, I can rest secure that God is forgiving me. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall, and I generally fall 7 times before breakfast so this is a big source of joy and comfort to me.

    “Having someone die on the Cross for our sins is basically a cop-out”
    You couldn’t be more wrong!
    No man can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for him-
    8 the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough- (Psalm 49:7-8)
    We cannot achieve our salvation through our own merits. A person who sins thinking they’ll be forgiven is committing the sin of “presumption”. The requirement of being forgiven is to repent. If you refuse to acknowledge your sinfulness you will not be forgiven.

    9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

    6When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
    17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2: 16-18)

    That is why the worst sin in Christianity is pride, because pride prevents us from seeing our sinfulness and dependence on God, pride keeps us from being forgiven.

    It is sooo not a cop-out. Because Jesus suffered, I know I can fare no better. There are no guarantees of worldly success for me:
    18″If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.'[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.'[c] (John 15: 18-25)

    Being Christian means that I have to be a lamb among wolves. It means I have to die to myself every day. I have to give up my life to follow God. I give my life to Jesus. I give up the regard that people had for me (and I always cared a lot about what people think). Because Christ suffered I know that I will suffer too. In fact, the more God loves me the more I will suffer. I can be in the world but not be of the world. People I love dearly wish I had become atheist and taken up gambling, drugs, alcohol, and even pork, anything but this. But Jesus called me and I rejoice every day that an unworthy person like me accepted His call even as people who were smarter and much worthier didn’t.

    My question to you is, IF you knew in your heart that Christianity is true (as outlined above with Jesus being the Son of God), would you follow Him?

  22. Mahsheed said,

    By the way, thanks for praying for me and allowing me to pray for you. Your mosque is lucky to have you.

  23. Alaa said,

    sheikh Zia I need some help from you. how can I contact you?

  24. Alaa said,

    “My question to you is, IF you knew in your heart that Christianity is true (as outlined above with Jesus being the Son of God), would you follow Him?”
    I would like to add that Christianity is based on belief only I don’t think it’s easy for someone to know that god is three and the three is one. Add to that what jesus did! all you can come up with is just a belief! while it’s easy to know that there is GOD but not to know his “number”! Christianity and Judaism were mentioned in Quran but Quran is not mentioned in both of them so Christians and Jews are the ones who should try to know more about Quran.

  25. Trinity and Belief « Muslihoon said,

    […] In this comment, Alaa wrote: “My question to you is, IF you knew in your heart that Christianity is true (as outlined above with Jesus being the Son of God), would you follow Him?” I would like to add that Christianity is based on belief only I don’t think it’s easy for someone to know that god is three and the three is one. Add to that what jesus did! all you can come up with is just a belief! while it’s easy to know that there is GOD but not to know his “number”! Christianity and Judaism were mentioned in Quran but Quran is not mentioned in both of them so Christians and Jews are the ones who should try to know more about Quran. […]

  26. MikeT said,

    Zia Sheik,

    That’s not the case. Only gentile Christians can eat pork. Hebrew Christians are still required to observe Jewish dietary laws. Paul resolved it because gentiles were not party to the old covenant where the dietary laws were established. (I assume you understand the two covenants of Judaism and Christianity). Additionally, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of Yaweh that inspired the prophets. This is how he had the authority to proclaim the things he did about gentiles and the dietary laws. As an adopted disciple, he shared a special authority as one of the highest agents of the Messiah on such matters, an authority rivaled at the most only by the prophets.

    WRT the death on the cross, it is our teaching that this was the beginning of the new covenant wherein man would live by grace, no the law. Grace allows us to sin more in one respect, but it holds us to a higher standard. Man is now deeply judged by the state of his heart, not his actions. No good works can save you or alter your damnation now. This is because no good works can atone for the evil that your heart would do before God, even if you never said or acted on it. A mere evil thought is enough to damn you in the eyes of our God. That is where grace comes in. It is based on trust, faith, love and humility, not blind obediance, fear and submission as the legalism of the Pharisees and what we see with many who agitate for Sharia.

    You see an excuse to sin. We see a God whose wrath has been satisfied and now calls us to a deeper faith through grace, not to work toward a perfection that our sin has denied us. It is also important to remember one last thing. Grace is not static. If you accept it, God will mold you into one of his many saints over time. God is infinite and patient and the final aspect of grace is that in death we are perfected before God as a total new creation, not just a new creation in the spirit.

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