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Questions 中国人 Ask Me About 神: the Quran
October 19, 2011Posted by on
This one’s a little unusual, but that’s a very good reason to include it 😉
You may already know, but just in case you don’t: just as The Library is the collection of documents believed by the followers of 神, the Quran is the holy book of the Islamic religion. It is believed by millions of people in the world. If you ever read it, you’ll discover that the Quran is very different from The Library – different in style, content, tone. The Quran sometimes tells stories that are also in The Library, but in a different way – sometimes contradicting The Library. This is OK, and not a good reason to be angry or frustrated. I’m not writing this to make you hate Islam or Muslims.
I am going to answer a very good question, though, and I think the answer might help you as you think about your life in a new 中国, where you are free to think and explore many ideas.
Even if you don’t know the stories I’m writing about, don’t worry, keep reading: there’s a very important point to be made.
Here in Canada in our Roots studies, one friend said something like this: “The Library and the Quran tell the story of Abraham and Isaac and Ishmael in very different ways. The Library says that Isaac was the special son of Abraham, born when he was 100 years old, and that 神 would give His covenant through Isaac and his descendants. These are the modern-day Jews and Christians. But the Quran says that Ishmael was the favoured son, that Allah’s covenant goes through Ishmael and his descendants. These people are the modern-day Arabs and Muslims. Why should I believe The Library, and not believe the Quran?”
Now, many people simply give up, and make a choice to follow The Library, or to follow the Quran, or to follow neither one, because they don’t have time to learn about these kinds of arguments. I understand this. But if you’re really looking for answers for your life, and you want to know if The Library has trustworthy information, well … take a few minutes and walk with me through these short paragraphs. It won’t take long.
If you’re interested in reading the version of the story in The Library, you’ll find it in “The Beginning” (Genesis) chapters 15 – 22.
Let’s ask a few simple questions: “Was there any such person in history as Abraham? If so, when did he live? Did he have two sons, named Ishmael and Isaac?”
Yes, as far as we can tell, there probably was such a person, living in ancient Ur, on the Persian Gulf, in around the year 1900 BC. Yes, he did have two sons named Ishmael and Isaac. They would have been born in around 1800 BC. At any rate, both The Library and the Quran agree on that part.
“When was the story written down in The Library?” We can’t tell the absolutely certain date – but we can know for sure that it was part of the faith of the people of Israel in their Long March out of slavery in Egypt, in the year 1280 BC. We also have earlier stories immediately following the time of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac which date into the 1800’s and 1700’s BC.
The Library tells these stories all in the same way, a consistent report, from Abraham right through to our time. Until the time of the Quran, there never was a different way of telling the story.
“When was the story written down in the Quran?” We can tell very closely: the Quran was written between 610 and 632 AD. Before this time we have no reports that agree with the story as in the Quran: the Quran is the first document ever to tell the story in the way that Ishmael (and the Arabs and Muslims) are the people of Allah’s promise.
Now, please note that the reports in The Library date from very close to the time of the actual events, before they were written down. At the very most, The Library’s first written report would be about 600 years after the events.
But the Quran’s report of the story would be more than 2400 years after the events!
Now I understand, in a fairly short time stories can be changed and messed up. But tell me, which written report is more likely to be correct: one that’s 600 years away from the event, or one that’s 2400 years away from it? Which report is more likely to be incorrect?
Muslims believe that the original story was changed, and that Allah revealed the correct story line 2400 years later. They believe that if it’s in the Quran, then it must be correct, with no questions. Of course, they are free to believe this if they wish.
But you are free to decide whether their claim is valid or they are mistaken – and whether you should follow The Library’s story line, or the Quran’s story line. I’ll leave that decision up to you.
Why is this important at all? Why should I care? Most of my 中国人 friends tell me that they and their generation feel spiritually empty and directionless. Working a lot, making money, spending money, complete sexual freedom, etc. is not satisfying their hearts. To go back to the traditional ways of their distant ancestors seems too difficult, too strange, too far out of touch with modern life. So my friends are looking for a deeper sense of direction, something spiritual but genuine – something that is real, and connects with life in their world every day, that gives them a sense of direction and hope.
Many religions and ideologies and philosophies will try to get your attention. You must decide what to do with your life, whether to follow none of them, or to choose one and follow it. There are very many very good reasons to consider The Library and 神. See the other articles on this site for more!
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