Did the Conclusion of the Curse of Musa (PBUH) occur?

We saw in the history of the Israelites that in 70 AD they were expelled from the Promised Land to live as exiles and foreigners in all the nations of the world.  For about 2000 years this was where and how the Israelites lived.  As they lived in these different nations they periodically suffered great persecutions.  This was particularly true in Christian Europe.  From Spain, in Western Europe, to the pogroms in Russia the Israelites lived often in a precarious state. The words of Musa given in the Curse were fulfilled as it was written

 … Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart.  (Deuteronomy 28:65)

The timeline below shows this 2000 year period which follows after the history of the Israelites from the time of the Bible.  This period is shown in a long red bar.

A Historical Timeline of Jewish people from Musa until Today

You can see that the Israelites through their history went through two periods of exile but the second period of exile was much longer than the first period of exile (which was only from 600 – 530 BC).

The Jews kept their cultural Identity

What is fascinating to me is that though the Israelites never had a central place to put down cultural roots, and though they never grew very numerous (often because of deaths in persecution) they never lost their cultural identity over this 2000 year period.  That is quite remarkable.  Here in the Taurat is a list of nations that lived in the Promised Land at the time of Sign 1 of Musa (PBUH).

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8)

And from the time of the giving of the Blessings and Curses:

When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you (Deuteronomy 7:1)

Do any of these people still exist, retaining their cultural and linguistic identity?  No they are long gone.  We only know about ‘Girgashites’ from this ancient history.  As the mighty Babylonian, Persian, Greek and then Roman empires conquered these nations they quickly lost their language and identity as they were absorbed into these large empires.  As I live in Canada I see immigrants come here from all over the world.  After the 3rd generation the culture and language of the country of immigration is long gone.  I immigrated from Sweden to Canada when I was very young.  My son does not speak Swedish.  Neither do the children of my brother or sister.  The Swedish identity of my forebears is disappearing in the Canadian cultural melting pot.  And this is true of almost all immigrants whether they come from China, Japan, Korea, Iran, South America, Africa or the countries of Europe – within three generations it is lost.

So it is remarkable that the Israelites, living in such hostility, forced to flee here and there over the centuries, their global population never exceeding 15 million, never lost their identity – religious, cultural and language – even though this lasted for 2000 years.

Modern genocide of the Jews – The Holocaust

Then the persecutions and pogroms against the Jews reached their peak. Hitler in World War II, through Nazi Germany tried to exterminate all the Jews living in Europe.  And he almost succeeded by creating a mechanized system of exterminating them in gas ovens.  However he was defeated and a remnant of Jews survived.

Modern Re-birth of Israel

And then in 1948 the Jews, through the United Nations, had the remarkable re-birth of the modern state of Israel.  It is remarkable just in the fact, as noted above, that there were people still around who identified themselves as ‘Jews’ after all these years.  But for these words of Musa written down 3500 years ago to come true there had to remain a ‘you’ or a people that could receive the promise. So they remained a people even while in their long exile.

…then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. (Deuteronomy 30:3-4)

This is indeed a sign that Allah keeps His Word.

It was also remarkable in that this state was founded in the teeth of opposition.  Most of the nations in that region waged war against Israel in 1948 … in 1956 … in 1967 and again in 1973.  Israel, a very small nation, often found itself at war with five nations at the same time.  Yet not only did they survive, but their territories increased.  In the war of 1967 the Jews regained Jerusalem, their historic capital city that Dawood (David) had founded.

Why did Allah allow the re-birth of Israel

To this day, all these modern developments are very controversial.  Almost no other modern happening arouses so much controversy as the re-birth of Israel and the return of the Israelites – happening almost daily now – from these nations all over the world where they had lived for thousands of years in exile.  And perhaps as you read this you yourself are filled with anger.  It is certainly not that the Jews today are religious – most are very secular or atheistic because of what happened with Hitler’s almost successful genocide.  And it is not that they are necessarily correct.  But the remarkable fact is that what Musa wrote down in the end of the Curses has occurred and is still occurring before our eyes.  Why?  What does this mean?  And how could this happen when they still reject the Masih?  These are important questions.  Answers can be found to all these questions in the Taurat and Zabur.  Maybe you are angry with what I have just written, perhaps bitter.  But perhaps we can hold off final judgment until we understand some of what the prophets wrote down about this remarkable event.  They wrote them down for our benefit – because this will all lead to Judgment – for the Jews and the rest of all alike.  Let us at least be informed of what these prophets wrote so that we can form our judgments from all writings.  We continue with the Zabur to ask why the Jews rejected the Masih.

Taurat’s Sign of the Prophet

The Prophets Musa (PBUH) and Harun (PBUH) have led the Israelites for 40 years. They have written the Commands and instituted the sacrifices, and many Signs in the Taurat.  Soon it is time for these two prophets to die.   Let us review the patterns from the Taurat before we consider the close of Taurat.

Reviewing patterns in Taurat

So what is the pattern of the Signs in the Taurat?

Sacrifice in Taurat

Notice the importance and how frequent sacrifices are given.  Think about the following we looked at:

These sacrifices were all done with clean animals – either sheep, goat or bull.  They were all male except the heifer.

These sacrifices atoned for the people who offered the sacrifice.  This means that they were a covering so that the guilt and shame of the person giving the sacrifice was covered.  This started with Adam who received the Mercy of Allah in the form of skins.  These skins required the death of an animal  while covering his nakedness.  An important question to ask is:  Why are sacrifices no longer given or offered?  We will see the answer later.

Righteousness in Taurat

The word ‘righteousness’ constantly re-appeared.  We saw it first with Adam when Allah told him that the ‘raiment of righteousness was the best’.  We saw that Ibrahim was ‘credited’ righteousness when he chose to believe the promise of a coming son.  The Israelites could get righteousness if they could keep the Commandments – but they had to keep them fully – all the time.

Judgment in Taurat

We also saw that failing to keep the commands resulted in Judgment from Allah.  This started with Adam, who only had to disobey once to receive judgment.  Judgment always resulted in death.  Death was either on the person being judged or on the animal sacrificed.  Think about the following:

  • With Adam, the animal sacrificed for skins died.
  • With Abel – the animal of his accepted sacrifice died.
  • With Noah people died in the flood and even Noah, after the flood, by offering a sacrifice, had an animal die.
  • With Lut, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah died in Judgment – as well as his wife.
  • With the sacrifice of Ibrahim’s son the son would have died but the ram died instead.
  • With Passover either the firstborn son (for Pharoah and the other unbelievers) died or the lamb whose blood was painted on the doors died.
  • With the Commandments of the Law, either the guilty person died or the one goat died on the Day of Atonement.

What does this mean?  We will see as we continue.  But now Musa and Harun (PBUT) are going to finish the Taurat.  But they do so with two important messages directly from Allah, both of which looked to the future and are important for us today – the coming Prophet and the coming Curses & Blessings.  We look at the Prophet here.

The Coming Prophet

When Allah gave the Tablets at Mount Sinai He did so with a terrible display of power. The Taurat describes the scene just before the Tablets were given

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. … Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. (Exodus 19:16-18)

The people were filled with fear. The Taurat describes them this way

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)

This had happened at the beginning of Musa’s (PBUH) 40 years of leading the community. At the end, Allah spoke to the prophet Musa (PBUH) about that past situation, reminding the people of their past fear, and making a promise for the future. Musa (PBUH) records in the Taurat:

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb (i.e. Sinai) on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”

The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)

Allah wanted the people to have a healthy respect so when he spoke the Commands on Tablets He did so in a way that caused great fear among the people. But now He looks to the future and promises that a time will come when a prophet like Musa (PBUH) from among the Israelites will be raised up. Then two guidelines are given:

  1. Allah himself will hold people responsible if they do not pay attention to the coming Prophet
  2. The way to decide whether Allah has spoken through a prophet is that the message should be able to predict the future and it must come true.

The first guideline did not mean that there will be only one more prophet after Musa (PBUH), but that there will be one coming who in particular we must listen to because he was to have a unique role with his message – they would be ‘My Words’. Since only Allah Himself knows the future – certainly no man does – the second guideline was a way for the people to know if a message actually came from Allah or not.  We see next how Musa (PBUH) used this second guidance to foresee the future of the Israelites in the Blessings and Curses of the Israelites – which closes the Taurat.

But what about this ‘coming Prophet’?  Who was he?  Some scholars have suggested that this is referring to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  But notice that the prophecy states that this prophet would be “from among their fellow Israelites” – thus a Jew.  So it cannot be referring to him.  Other scholars have wondered if this could be referring to the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH).  He was a Jew and he also taught with great authority – as if Allah’s words were ‘in his mouth’.   The coming of Isa al Masih PBUH was foreseen in the sacrifice of Ibrahim, in the Passover, and also in this prophecy of ‘the prophet’ with the words of God in his mouth.

Sign of Harun: 1 Cow, 2 Goats

We saw in Musa Sign 2 that the Commands given on Mount Sinai were very exacting. At the end of that article I invited you to ask yourself (because this is the intent of the Law) if you always keep the Commands or not. If you do not always keep the Law you, as am I, are in serious trouble – Judgment hangs. This is no worry if you always keep the Law, but if you fail to do so what can be done? It was Harun (also called Aaron, brother of Musa), and his descendants who addressed this by administering sacrifices – and these sacrifices atoned, or covered, sins. Harun had two especially important sacrifices that were Signs to understand how Allah would cover over sins committed in the breaking of the Law. These were the sacrifices of the Cow and the Two Goats. Surah Baqarah is named from Harun’s sacrifice of the Cow.  But let’s start with the Goats.

The Scapegoat and the Day of Atonement

From Musa Sign 1 the Passover was (and still is!) celebrated by Jewish people in memory of their deliverance from Pharaoh. But the Taurat commanded other festivals as well. A particularly important one was called the Day of Atonement. Click here to read the full account in the Taurat.

Why were such careful and detailed instructions given for the Day of Atonement? We see how they begin:

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. (Leviticus 16:1-2)

What had happened before was that two sons of Harun had died when they rashly entered the Tent where the Presence of the LORD was. But In His Holy presence, their failure to fully keep the Law (as we saw here) resulted in their deaths. Why? In the Tent was the Ark of the Covenant. The Qur’an also mentions this Ark of the Covenant. It says

And (further) their Prophet said to them: “A Sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (an assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this is a symbol for you if ye indeed have faith.” Surah 2:248 (The Cow)

As it says, this ‘Ark of the Covenant’ was a Sign of authority because the Ark was the symbol of the covenant of the Law of Musa. The Stone Tablets with the Ten Commandments were kept in this Ark. And anyone who failed to keep all the Law – in the presence of this Ark – would die. The first two sons of Harun died when they had entered the Tent. So careful instructions were given, which included the command that there was only one day in the whole year that Harun could enter the Tent – this Day of Atonement. If he entered any other day he too would die. But even on this one day, before Harun could enter the presence of the Ark of the Covenant, he had to

Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household… and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. (Leviticus 16:6,13)

So a bull was sacrificed to cover, or atone, for Harun’s own sins that he committed against the Law. And then immediately after, Harun performed the remarkable ceremony of the scapegoat.

Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering.(Leviticus 16:7-9)

Once the bull was sacrificed for his own sins, Harun would take two goats and cast lots. One goat would be designated as the scapegoat. The other goat was to be sacrificed as a sin offering. Why?

“He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people … In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. (Leviticus 16:15-16)

And what happened to the scapegoat?

Aaron … shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness … The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place… (Leviticus 16:20-22)

The sacrifice and death of the bull was for Harun’s own sin. The sacrifice of the first goat was for the sin of the Israelite people. Harun would then place his hands on the head of the living scapegoat and – as a sign – transfer the sins of the people onto the scapegoat. The goat was then released into the wilderness as a sign that the sins of the people were now far removed from the people. With these sacrifices their sins were atoned for. This was all done every year on the Day of Atonement.

The Heifer, or Cow in Baqarah and Taurat

Harun also had other sacrifices to make including the sacrifice of the Heifer (a female cow instead of a male bull). It is this very heifer and its sacrifice which is the reason for the title The Cow for Surah 2. So the Qur’an speaks directly of this animal. Click here to read the account in Qur’an. As you could see, the people were startled and confused when it was commanded that a cow (ie a female) be used for this sacrifice and not the usual male animal. And it ends with

So We said: “Strike the (body) with a piece of the (heifer).” Thus God bringeth the dead to life and showeth you His Signs: Perchance ye may understand. (Surah 2:73 – The Cow)

So this is also considered one of the Signs which we need to pay attention to. But in what way is this Heifer a Sign? We read that it has to do with death and life. “Perchance we may understand” as we study the original instructions in the Taurat given to Harun about this sacrifice. Click here to see the full passage from the Taurat. We see that

the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. (Numbers 19:5-6)

Hyssop was a branch from a certain leafy tree. At the Passover when the Israelites were to paint the blood of the Passover lamb on their doors so death would pass over they were commanded to

Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the … doorframes (Exodus 12:22)

Hyssop was also used with the heifer, and the heifer, hyssop, wool and cedar were burned until there were only ashes left. Then

“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. (Numbers 19:9)

So the ashes were mixed into ‘water of cleansing’. An unclean person would perform his ablutions (ritual washings or Wudhu) to restore cleanliness using this ash mixed in water. But the ashes were not for any uncleanness but for a particular kind.

“Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. They must purify themselves with the water (mixed with the ashes of the heifer) on the third day and on the seventh day; then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean. If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse, they defile the LORD’s tabernacle. (Numbers 19:11-13)

So these ashes, mixed with water, were for wudhu (i.e. ablutions) when someone was unclean from touching a dead body. But why would touching a dead body result in such a severe uncleanness? Think about it! Adam had been made mortal because of his disobedience, and all his children (you and me!) as well. Thus death is unclean because it is a consequence of sin – it is associated with the uncleanness of sin. Someone touching a dead body would then also become unclean. But these ashes were a Sign – that would wash away this uncleanness. The unclean person, dead in his ‘uncleanness’, would find ‘life’ in the cleansing from ablutions with the Hiefer ashes.

But why was a female animal used and not a male? No direct explanation is given but we can reason from the scriptures. Throughout the Taurat and the Zaboor (and all other scriptures) Allah reveals himself as a ‘He’ – in the male gender. And the Israelite nation is spoken collectively as a ‘she’ – in the female gender. As in marital man-woman relationships, Allah led and his followers responded. But the initiative was always with Allah. He initiated the command to Ibrahim to sacrifice his son; He initiated the given of the Commandments on Tablets; He initiated the judgement of Noah, etc.. It was never a human’s (prophet or otherwise) idea to begin with – his followers merely submitted to His leading.

The ashes of the Heifer were to meet a human need – that of uncleanness. Thus to be a proper Sign for a human need, the animal that was offered was female. This uncleanness points to the shame we feel when we sin, not the guilt that we have before Allah. When I sin, not only have I broken the Law and am guilty before the Judge, but I also feel shame and regret. How does Allah provide for our shame? First of all, Allah provided a covering of clothes for us. The first humans received clothes of skin to cover their nakedness and shame. And the Children of Adam ever since have always covered themselves with clothing – in fact it is so natural to do so that we rarely stop to ask ‘why?’. These ablutions with cleansing water was another way so we could feel ‘clean’ from the things that contaminate us. The goal of the Heifer was to cleanse us.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22)

Conversely, the sacrifice of the male goats on the Day of Atonement was primarily for Allah so a male animal was used. With the Sign of the Ten Commandments, we noted that the penalty for disobedience was clearly and repeatedly specified as death (click here to check the passages). Allah was (and is!) Judge and as Judge demanded death. The death of the male bull first met Allah’s requirement that death be paid for Aaron’s sin. Then the death of the first male goat met Allah’s requirement that death pay for the sins of the Israelites. Then the sins of the Israelite community could symbolically be placed on the scapegoat by Harun, and as the scapegoat was released into the wilderness it was a sign that the sins of the community were released.

These sacrifices were celebrated by Harun and his descendants for over one thousand years. Throughout the history of the Israelites in the land given to them; when Dawood (or Dawud) became King and his sons also ruled; when the many prophets with messages warning against evil came; even through the life of Isa al Masih (PBUH) these sacrifices were performed to meet these needs.

So with these last Signs of Musa and Harun, the messages of the Taurat were coming to a close. Soon successor prophets would come and the Zabur would continue the messages from Allah. But first there was one final message in the Taurat. The prophet Musa (pbuh) was going to look into the future to the coming of a Prophet, as well as look to future blessings and curses on the descendants of Israel. These we look at in our last studies in the Taurat.

The Gospel 'according to' … who?

Recently I got what I thought was an excellent question.  I reproduce it here.

Hi, can you clarify why there’s an according to Luke, according to John in Injil? As far as I understand the word according means an account inspired by that person based on his understanding.

Hence, I am interested in Gospel(s) according to Jesus pbuh but “not according” to Luke, John, etc. If you have a copy, I would be happy to get it from you.

I thought it was worthwhile to give an in-depth answer.  Let’s think about the question and even re-phrase it a little.

What does the word ‘Gospel’ mean?

There are four Gospel books in the New Testament of al Kitab: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  What does it mean that these are ‘according to’ these different writers?  Does it mean there are four different gospels (or injils)?  Are they different from the ‘Gospel of Jesus’?  Does it mean these are accounts ‘inspired by that person based on his understanding’?

It is so easy with questions like this to dismiss serious thinking because of our preconceived ideas. But to get a systematic answer, and one based on knowledge, we need to understand the word ‘Gospel’ (or ‘Injil’).  In the original Greek (this is the original language of the New Testament see here for details) the word for Gospel is εὐαγγελίου (pronounced euangeliou).  This word means a ‘message of good news’.  We know this by seeing how it was used in ancient history.  The Old Testament (Taurat & Zabur) were written in Hebrew (see here for details).  But about 200 BC – before the New Testament – because the world of that day was becoming very Greek-speaking, a translation of Old Testament from the Hebrew to Greek was made by Jewish scholars of that time.  This translation is called the Septuagint (see here for details on the Septuagint from my other website).  From the Septuagint we can understand how Greek words were used in that time (i.e. 200 BC).  So here is a passage from the Old Testament where εὐαγγελίου (‘good news’) was used in the Septuagint.

David answered Rekab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, when someone told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! (2 Samuel 4:9-10)

This is a passage when King David (Dawood) is speaking about how someone brought news of his enemy’s death thinking it would be good news to the king.  This word ‘good news’ is translated εὐαγγελίου in the 200 BC Greek Septuagint. So this means that εὐαγγελίου in the Greek means the ‘good news’.

But εὐαγγελίου also meant the historic book or document that contained the ‘good news’.  For example, Justin Martyr was an early follower of the Gospel (he would be exactly the same as a ‘successor’ to the companions of the Prophet (PBUH)) and an extensive writer. He used εὐαγγελίου in this way when he writes “… but also in the gospel it is written that He said…” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 100).  Here the word ‘good news’ is used to denote a book.

In the titles ‘The Gospel according to…’ the word εὐαγγελίου (gospel) has the first meaning of the word, while also suggesting the second meaning.  The ‘Gospel according to Matthew’ means the Good News as recorded to a written account by Matthew.

‘Gospel’ compared to ‘News’

Now the word ‘news’ today has the same double meaning.  ‘News’ in its primary sense means dramatic events that are occurring such as a famine or a war.  However, it can also refer to the agencies like BBC, Al-Jazeera or CNN that report these ‘news’ items to us.  As I write this, the civil war in Syria is making a lot of news.  And it would be normal for me to say “I am going to listen to the BBC News on Syria”.  ‘News’ in this sentence refers primarily to the events but also the agency reporting the events. But the BBC does not make up the news, nor is the news about the BBC – it is about the dramatic event. A listener who wants to be informed of a news event may listen to several news reports from several agencies to get a more complete overall perspective – all about the same news event.

In the same way the Gospel is about Isa al Masih – Jesus (PBUH).  He is the object of the news focus and there is only one Gospel.  Notice how Mark starts his book

“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ…” (Mark 1:1)

There is one gospel and it is about Jesus (Isa – PBUH) and he had one message, but this message was written down by Mark in a book, and this book is also called a Gospel.

The Gospels – like haddiths

You can also think of this like in terms of haddiths.  There are haddiths of the same event that come through different isnads or chain of narrators. The event is one thing but the chain of reporters can be different.  The event or saying of the haddith is not about the narrators – it is about something that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said or did.  The Gospels are exactly the same except that the isnad chain is only one link longIf you accept in principle that an isnad (after doing the proper checking that scholars like Bhukari and Muslim did) can accurately report the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), even if there can be different isnads through different narrators going back to the same event, why is it difficult to accept the one link or one narrator long ‘isnad’ of the gospel writers?  It is exactly the same principle but the isnad chain is much shorter and much more clearly established since it was written down very soon after the event, not a few generations years later like the scholars Bukhari and Muslim did when they reduced the oral isnads of their day to writing.

Gospel Writers were not inspired by themselves

And the writers of these gospels were promised by Isa al Masih (PBUH) that what they wrote would be inspired by Allah – the writing is not from their human inspiration.  It says so both in the gospels and the Qur’an

“All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:25-26)

And behold I inspired the Disciples to have faith in me and mine messenger (Isa): they said, “We have faith, and you bear witness that we bow to Allah as Muslims (Surat 5:111 – Table Spread)

So the written documents they produced – the gospels we have today – were not inspired by them.  They were inspired by Allah and thus deserve serious consideration.  The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have always been (since they were written down in the first century) the gospel of Jesus – they were the reporters of it.  Read their writings to read the message of Jesus (Isa – PBUH) and understand the ‘Good News’ he was teaching.

Sign 2 of Musa: The Law

We saw in the First Sign of Musa – Passover – that Allah had decreed death to all firstborn sons except for those who were in houses where a lamb had been sacrificed and blood painted on the doorposts. Pharaoh did not submit so his son died and Musa (also called Moses – PBUH ) led the Israelites out of Egypt, and Pharaoh drowned while chasing them across the Red Sea.

But Musa’s role as Prophet was not only to lead them out of Egypt, but also to lead them to a new way of living – by living according to Sharia Law established by Allah.

Surah al-Ala (Surah 87 – The Most High) reminds us how Allah has made the world run according to natural laws:

Glorify the name of thy Guardian-Lord Most High,

Who hath created, and further, given order and proportion;

Who hath ordained laws. And granted guidance;

And Who bringeth out the (green and luscious) pasture,

And then doth make it (but) swarthy stubble. (Surah al-A’la 87:1-5)

Similarly, He wills that mankind run according to Moral Laws.

So shortly after leaving Egypt, Musa (PBUH) and the Israelites came to Mount Sinai. Musa (PBUH) went up the mountain for 40 days to receive Sharia Law. Surah Baqarah and Surah al-Araf  refers to this time with the following ayat.

And remember We took your covenant and We raised above you (The towering height) of Mount (Sinai) : (Saying): “Hold firmly to what We have given you and bring (ever) to remembrance what is therein: Perchance ye may fear God.” (Surah Baqarah 2:63 – The Cow)

We appointed for Moses thirty nights, and completed (the period) with ten (more): thus was completed the term (of communion) with his Lord, forty nights. …” (Surah al-Araf 7:142 – The Heights)

So what was the Law that Musa (PBUH) received? Though the complete Law was quite long (613 commands and regulations to decide what was and was not permitted – like regulations on what is haram and what is halal) and these commands make up much of the Taurat, Musa first received a set of specific commands written by Allah on tablets of stone. These were known as the Ten Commandments, which became the foundation for all the other regulations. These Ten were the absolute essentials of the Law – the prerequisites before all the others.  Surah al-Araf refers to this in the ayat:

And We ordained laws for him in the tablets in all matters, both commanding and explaining all things, (and said): “Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin thy people to hold fast by the best in the precepts: soon shall I show you the homes of the wicked,- (How they lie desolate).”  Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right – them will I turn away from My signs: Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected our signs, and failed to take warning from them. (Surah al-A’raf 7:145-146 – The Heights)

The Ten Commandments

So the Qur’an in Surah Al-Araf says that these Ten Commandments written in tablets of stone were signs by Allah himself.  But what were these commands? They are given here exactly from the Book of Exodus in the Taurat that Musa (PBUH) copied from the tablets of stone. (I only add the numbers to count the commands)

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

1) You shall have no other gods before me.

2) You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3) You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

4) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

5) Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

6) You shall not murder.

7) You shall not commit adultery.

8) You shall not steal.

9) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. ”  (Exodus 20:1-18)

Often it seems that many of us who live in secular countries forget that these were commands. They were not suggestions. They were not recommendations. Nor were they negotiable. They were commands to be obeyed – to submit to. It was Sharia Law.  And the Israelites were in fear of God’s Holiness.

The Standard of Obedience

Surah al-Hashr (Surah 59 – The Exile) refers to how the Ten Commands were given by comparing it to the Qur’an’s revealing.  In contrast to the Qur’an, the Ten Commands were given on a mountain in a terrifying display.

Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of God.  Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.

God is He, than Whom there is no other god;- Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. (Surah al-Hashr 59:21-22)

But an important question remains. How much or many commands were they to obey? The following verse comes just before the giving of the Ten Commandments

…they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “… if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. (Exodus 19:2-5)

And this verse was given just after the Ten Commandments

Then he (Musa) took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” (Exodus 24:7).

In the last book of the Taurat (there are five) which is Musa’s final message, he summarized the obedience to the Law in this way.

The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25)

Obtaining Righteousness

Here appears this word ‘righteousness’ again. It is a very important word. We first saw it in the Sign of Adam when Allah said to the children of Adam (us!):

“O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness – that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition” [Surah al-Araf 7:26 (The Heights)]

Then we saw it in Sign 2 of Ibrahim when Allah promised him a son, and Ibrahim (PBUH) trusted this promise and it says then that

Abram believed the LORD, and he [i.e. Allah] credited it to him [i.e. Ibrahim] as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

(Please see Sign 2 of Ibrahim for a full explanation of righteousness).

Here through the Law provides a way to obtain righteousness because as it says “if we are careful to obey all this law … that will be our righteousness” (Deuteronomy 6:25)

But the condition to gain righteousness is severe. It says we need to ‘obey all this Law’ and only then do we get righteousness.  This reminds us of the Sign of Adam.  It took only one act of disobedience for Allah to judge and eject them from Paradise.  Allah did not wait for several disobedient acts.  It was the same with Lut’s wife in the Sign of Lut.  To help us really understand the seriousness of this  linked here are many verses in Taurat that stress that this exact level of obedience to the Law.

Let us think what this means. Sometimes in the university courses I took, the professor would give us many questions (for example 25 questions) in the exam and then required only some of the questions of our choice to be answered. We could, for example, choose 20 questions out of the 25 to answer in the exam. Someone might find one question too difficult and he could choose to skip that question but another student finds a different question difficult and he skips that one. In effect, we would only have to do 20 out of 25 questions of our choice. In this way the professor made the exam easier for us.

Many people treat the Ten Commandments of the Law in the same way. They think that Allah, after giving the Ten Commands, meant, “Attempt any five of your choice from these Ten”. But no, this was not how it was given. They were to obey and keep ALL the commands, not just some of them of their choice. Only in keeping all the Law would it ‘become their righteousness’.

But why do some people treat the Law like this? Because the law is very difficult to keep, especially since this is not just for a day but for your entire life.  So it is easy for us to deceive ourselves and lower the standard.  Review these commands and ask yourself, “Can I obey these? All? Every day? Without failing?” The reason we need to ask this question for ourselves is because the Ten Commandments are still in effect. Allah has not discontinued them even as other prophets (including Isa al Masih and Muhammad – PBUT – see here) continued after Musa (PBUH). Since these are the basic commands that deal with idolatry, the worship of One God, adultery, stealing, murder, lying etc. they are timeless and so we all need to  obey them. No one can answer this question for another person – he can only answer it for himself. And he will answer them again on Judgment Day before Allah.

The all-important question before Allah

So I will pose a question, modified from Deuteronomy 6:25 so it is personal and you can answer for yourself. Depending on how you respond to this statement from the Law, the Law acts on you in different ways. Choose the answer that you think is true about you. Click on the answer that applies to you.

From Deuteronomy 6:24-25 personalized for you

The LORD commanded me to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that I might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And I have been careful to obey all this law before the LORD my God, as he has commanded me, and that will be my righteousness.”

Yes – this is true of me.

No – I have not obeyed all and this is not true of me.