Answers to al-Imām Zia Sheikh; أخوبة للإمام ضياء شيج

September 22, 2006 at 12:31 am (Arabic, Christianity, Hebrew, Islam, Judaism, Languages, Religion, Religions, Theology)

Answers to some of his questions and comments.

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.

It’s not that I accept one or the other, it’s that one’s reasons are better or more valid than the other. When people say that pork is unhealthy, they are wrong. In today’s world, this is not so. Indeed, in some cases the meat of chickens or cows is far more dangerous than that of pigs, yet the Qur’an says nothing about abstaining from chicken or beef. Thus, the Qur’an, or its interpretation, is based on faulty or outdated knowledge and science. While Torah forbids it arbitrarily and for the sake of creating a separate and distinct religious community, the Qur’an is believed to have done so, and indeed lends itself to such an interpretation, for reasons of health, sanitation, and so on.

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.

Christians do not accept as valid the ritualistic commandments of the Hebrew Bible (known as the Old Testament by Christians).

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.

Muslims should not drink, yes. However, I know of many, many Muslims who do. And yet none of them would even touch pork, let alone eat it.

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.

The dictates of the Qur’an are for all people. The Qur’an calls all people to submit to God and to obey Him. Those who do not are in rebellion against Him and will suffer for it. Thus, the Qur’an does not make any distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim: Muslims have accepted the validity of the Qur’an and are expected to obey it, whereas non-Muslims are already in rebellion and so the Qur’an dictates serve to remind them what they should do.

In contrast to this, the laws of Torah are for Israel. Torah does not care so much about what non-Israelites do. Which is why when Torah prohibits pork, it says it is unclean for the Israelites.

Furthermore, the Qur’an makes no statement that pork is unclean specifically for Muslims: it says that it is unclean, period. Thus it is intrinsically unclean, whether for Muslim or non-Muslim. But is this true? What if pork can be produced in a healthy manner, would this dictate of the Qur’an still be relevant? Jews admit that when God prohibitted certain things, He did so in an arbitrary manner: the issue was not health or sanitation but instituting practices to keep Israel separate and different.

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).”

Rather than respond with yet another long paragraph – which I had already written – I will simply say that this comment and issue are completely irrelevant if not misleading. Please indicate how this comment of yours is relevant to the discussion taking place, and I will respond accordingly.

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.

What positive thing about Islam is staring in my face?

I pray that Allah SWT guides you back to the truth, amin.

إنا الله قد هداني لنور حقه وأشكره لرحمته عَلَيَّ

I have a few questions/comments about the responses:

Questions are welcome. Comments are too.

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?

I would encourage you to read the entire episode, which occurred with the Apostle Simon Peter, and can be found in Acts 10 and Acts 11. This goes along with Jesus had said: “And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:10-11), and “…and, behold, all things are clean unto you” (Luke 11:41). Furthermore, according to Christians this was not simply a vision or a dream but a revelation by God. Christians believe that when Jesus fulfilled the Law (meaning the Mosaic Law or the Law of Moses), he replaced the old law with a new law, replacing a law of external observances with one of internal reform. Thus the various ritual and legal requirements of the Old Law were to be done away with. It took some time for the Church to implement this, as people were reluctant to give up such ancient traditions. But, as Paul says: “…circumcision [is that] of the heart, and in the spirit, [and] not in the letter…” (Romans 2:29).

This is no way strange, nor ought to be, for the same Lord that made all things and men clean said in times of old:
(הִמֹּלוּ לַיְי וְהָסִרוּ עָרְלׂות לְבַבְכֶם , himmolu la[haShem] v’hasiru orlot l’vavkhem, “Circumcise yourself to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart” (Jeremiah 4:4).)

( וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם וְעָרְפְּכֶם לֹא תַקְשׁוּ עׂוד , umaltem ēt orlat l’vavkhem v’orp’khem lo taqshu od, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked” (Deuteronomy 10:16).)

(בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ וּמָל יְי אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ. לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְי אֱלֹקֶיךָ , umol [haShem] elo[qey]kha et l’vav’kha v’et l’vav zarekha l’ahavah et [haShem] elo[qey]kha b’khol l’vav’kha uvkhol nafsh’kha l’ma’an chayyeykha, “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy see, to love LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deuteronomy 30:6).)

And so even in the Hebrew Bible God has expressed His clarification that the circumcision of the heart is just as (if not more) important as the circumcision of the flesh, and so, according to Christianity, when He (remember: the same God that gave the Law of Moses – that is, Torah – is believed to be God Incarnate in the New Testament) fulfilled the old law and replaced it with the new law, such ritual observances and even issues such as purity and impurity (taharah and teima in Hebrew and Judaism, (ألطهارة, aT-Tahārah) and (ألنجاسة, an-najāsah) in Arabic and Islam) were abrogated.

You, of all people, should be familiar with and accepting of the concept of abrogation (ألنسخ, an-naskh), as this is what Muslims claim Islam has done, and which has even occured within in the Qur’an (the abrogation of some earlier ayāt by later ayāt).

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.

The reason has to do with the alleged purpose behind it. Jews do not claim that the commandment is relevant because of health reasons. Although some may say that, traditionally God’s prohibition against pigs has been seen as one commandment among many to keep Israel separate and distinct, so that they may fulfill the overall commandment found in Leviticus 20:7 וְהִתְקַדִּשְׁתֶם וִהְיִיתֶם קְדשִׁים: כִּי אֲנִי יְי אֱלקֵיכֶם” ” (v’hitqaddishtem vihyiytem q’doshim ki ani [haShem] elo[qē]khem, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am the LORD your God.”). The reason behind this prohibition is entirely spiritual. On the other hand, the rationale behind the prohibition of pork is said to be because of health. The Qur’an says in verse/āyah 145 of chapter/sūrah VI (سورة الأنعام, sūratu-l-an‛ām): (أو لحم خنزيرين فإنه رجسٌ, aw laHma khinzīrīn fa’innahu rijsun), meaning, “or the meat of pigs for it is dirty/impure”. There’s a manifest difference between “it is dirty/filthy/impure,” which the Qur’an says, and “it is impure to/for you,” which Torah says. The former implies that characteristic is intrinsic and essential to the item under discussion whereas the latter implies that the impurity is for only a certain people. And from this many Muslims extrapolate that pork is unclean, regardless what modern science or technology may have to say in the matter. As far as Jews are concerned, whether pork is healthy or unhealthy is irrelevant because God commanded them to refrain from pork so as to set them apart from other peoples.

Furthermore, there is no need to “accuse” me of bias, as I have made it very clear that I am a friend and supporter of Judaism. I do not have an agenda against Islam: I simply see it as a duty to speak about Islam, to speak about aspects that Muslims dare not speak about, and to critique Islam as all religions are open to critique. If this sets me up as someone against Islam, so be it.

Plus, as I have stated in the past, everyone is biased one way or another. It’s simply how we humans work.

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.

True to a degree. “Saracen” comes from the Greek “Σαρακηνοί” (sarakēnoy, with the stress on the last syllable) which itself comes from the Arabic (شرقيين, sharqiyyīn, the oblique plural for (شرقيون, sharqiyyūn), the plural for (شرقي, sharqī), meaning “easterner” or “from or of the east”). The Sharqiyyūn were a nomadic Arab tribe from the Sinai, whom the Greeks identified with the rest of the Arabs in a process akin to metonymy. Some Christian writers, however, believed that the term was derived from the Greek phrase “εκ της Σαρρας κενούς” (ek tēs sarras kenūs, “from Sarah empty” or “went away from Sarah empty-handed”). The latter is probably a teleological explanation for an already-existing term. Although because John of Damascus (who lived in the early eighth century) is often cited for this explanation, it cannot be discounted as one reason why it continued to be used by Christians.

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.

As Mahsheed made his comment, I will let him speak for himself.

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?

I believe Mahsheed brought this up, and so I will let him answer for it. If I am wrong, please correct me and I would love to respond.

Thank you for this stimulating conversation!



  1. blackflag said,

    Hmm, this theological conversation is quite interesting, being that the concerned parties are quite educated on the subject matter. I am actually quite inpressed that al-Imam Zia Sheik is being civil considering the circumstances. An Imam in the USA you say? And orginally from where (your calm has caused me to reduce my list of possible nations considerably)?

    I don’t want to derail this conversation but I would like to mention a few things below.

    I would point out as well that the term “Christian” is being used quite broadly here. As Muslihuun pointed out the differences between the Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) and the New Testament (Christian Scritpure) are many. Even then, the variations and sects within Christendom are as different as Sunni and Shia are in Islam.

    As an example, while most modern Christian sects believe in the New Testament, it’s interpretation by each group is wildly different. “Catholics”, “Southern Baptists” and “Pentecostals”, while Christians, do not share the same basic beliefs.

    It’s this broad stroke used by The East of “There is a Christian Crusade against Islam” that is most rediculous. As Muslihuun mentioned, a Crusade is not valid unless the Vatican wills it. The Vatican has power over Catholics and no longer holds influence over the bulk of Christendom (see above). Do a bit of research on the distribution of Christians by sect and see what you come up with, it will handily disperse the “War against Islam” crutch so many like to lean on.

    I’ll leave it at that for now and monitor the course of the conversation.

  2. RPKINMD said,

    One point in an excellent discussion. The commenter said.

    As an example, while most modern Christian sects believe in the New Testament, it’s interpretation by each group is wildly different. “Catholics”, “Southern Baptists” and “Pentecostals”, while Christians; do not share the same basic beliefs.

    This is not accurate. While sects or more accurate, denominations, have differences they share a common and agreed core of belief. These were hammered out in Councils, creeds and Statements of faith over the years. These I would call mandatory doctrine. There is a wealth of secondary doctrines which form the basis for the various denominations. These would include such things as the mode of baptism, eschatology, etc. A sect would be a denomination whose doctrine differs from accepted core principles in a way that places them outside the main stream, but not outside Christianity. Day Adventists practice some of the Ceremonial Law and would be an example of a sect.. A cult would be a group that claims to be Christian but deny one or more core doctrines.

    Your presentation of Christian and Jews beliefs was very good and fair as I understand them

  3. blackflag said,

    “While sects or more accurate, denominations, have differences they share a common and agreed core of belief. ”

    I agree with that, thanks for clarifying my poor choice of words as I didnt correctly convey my meaning.

  4. Zia Sheikh said,

    Muslihoon, it’s really amazing that you used that verse to prove your point. Somebody else might have accepted your claim as is, but unfortunately you are talking to an Imam.

    The word in question “Rijs” is used many (at least 10) times in the Quran, and it refers to impurity, but not necessary meaning impure/unhealthy in the physical sense.
    For example, “rijsumminal-awthaani-wa-qawlaz-zoor”. Here it says “impurity of statues and false statements/lies”. So you won’t say that statues are “unhealthy” for you, or lying is unhealthy for you, because these things are not edible. The meaning is spiritually impure, not physically impure.

    So we are back to square one. You STILL haven’t presented a verse in the Quran that says that Pork is unhealthy for you(even though I beleive it is, but not because of anything I read in the Quran). So the whole foundation of your argument has been blown away.

    The whole reason that you are claiming that Islam is wrong and the Torah’s ruling is acceptable is because the Torah forbids it for spiritual reasons. Keeping the above meanings of the word “Rijs” in mind, I believe that the Quran is also forbidding it for spiritual reasons, rather than a physical impurity.

    In Islam, there is a concept called “Amr ta’3abbudee”, which means we just obey God as he tells us to. For example wudu (ablution) for an outsider is kind of illogical, why do we need to wash certain body parts five times a day before praying? Answer: Because God told us to, and he knows better.

    The same goes for Pork. We just accept the ruling as is, whether we can get pork that is genetically modified to be as clean and pure as water or not. The ruling will not change for Muslims until th Day of Judgment, inshallah.

  5. Vegi said,

    Hey Pop!
    Don’t kill animales!
    Don’t eat dead bodys if you anderrstand!!!!

  6. koranist said,

    Does the Koran say the Torah abd Bible corrupted?

  7. aliyah88 said,

    salam aleykum wa rahmatullah wa barakato! i know many poeple who are non muslim eat pork and drink alcohol! but this is wrong! not viewed only by muslim person! pork is so disgusting andf u know while pig can kill human being ,and here in Bulgaria one man who was raising porks had heart attack and his pigs ate him! pritty disgusting though! and yet why pork is not sutable to be used for eating is that thier neck is so hard to cut ,they are suffering big tijme!there is toxins in the pork fats that if someone eats it in big cquanitites can go wild and aggresive! pork is so unhealthy that is worse even then the alcohol! but this doesn’t make the sin to drink lighter! is like distroying urself and saying ,hey i’m so gr8! i might l;ook horrible with no teeth from smoking and having a cancer from drinking and being extremely fat but i’m still better then muslim people! which by the way is arrogance to say and it’s the biggest sin ever ,and even christians should belive this co they musn’t be arrogant! Prophet Aisa(Jesus) was never arrogant and was obedient to Allah (God)! so we should take an example !

  8. sch said,

    It is with geart regret that people that are spiritually blind are attempting to lead each other. The way they read and think they understand but do not. If you go to my blog you will see the 1000+ contradictions and the additional evidence that proves their blindness.

  9. Tara said,

    I really learned a lot from this thanks. This is a really good thing u r doing to help people out. u r an amazing speaker. when u speak, what u say and how u say it sounds amazing. great job keep up the good work.

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