October 16, 2013
Eid al-Adha, or “Festival of Sacrifice”, is celebrated by Muslims to mark the occasion when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, to demonstrate his devotion to the Almighty.
Ignoring the advice of the Devil, who tried to tempt Ibrahim into disobeying God by saying he should spare Ishmael, Ibrahim was about to press ahead with the sacrifice when Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to kill instead.
The story is designed to demonstrate how Ibrahim’s devotion passed even the sternest test, and is told in similar fashion in the Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament, where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Today the story is commemorated on Eid by the sacrifice of a sheep, or sometimes a goat, although in Britain the animal must be killed at a slaughterhouse. The day is a public holiday in Muslim countries, and the festival’s Arabic title has connotations of a period of rejoicing that comes back time and again.
Sameer Rahim applauds a stimulating dialogue between great faiths.
Despite that in some parts of the world you find violent conflict between Christians and Muslims, the Muslim theologian Mona Siddiqui touches on a central doctrinal difference between the two largest monotheisms: the true nature of Jesus of Nazareth.
When Mohammed announced his new religion in the early seventh century, he claimed to be walking the same path as Old Testament prophets such as Abraham, Moses – and Jesus. The Koran relates that Jesus was born to a virgin called Mary, preached God’s word, gathered disciples and performed miracles. He was condemned to death by crucifixion, the Koran says, but was saved through divine intervention and ascended to heaven without dying. Jesus will return to Earth, according to Islamic tradition as the Messiah.
The crucial difference from the Christian narrative is that for Muslims, Jesus is emphatically not the Son of God.
Siddiqui raises the point that Islam might well have preserved aspects of theologically unorthodox Christianity. In Siddiqui’s final chapter she bravely questions what the crucifixion might mean to a Muslim.
The statements of right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders are on the same level as anti-Semitism. That’s the thrust of a full-page advertisement that Dutch-Jewish television producer Harry de Winter placed on the front page of Monday’s edtion of newspaper de Volkskrant. Dutch Muslims have reacted with surprise. The text of the advertisement, which has also been signed by two Dutch Jewish organisations, reads: “If Geert Wilders had said the same things about Jews (and the Old Testament) as he has now reeled off about Muslims (and the Qur’an), then he would have been ostracised a long time ago and accused of anti-Semitism.” Michel Hoebink reports.
By Nicholas C. Stern On his daily commute from Frederick to Georgetown University, Imam Yahya Hendi has time to practice the skill of listening. Hendi is the first full-time Muslim chaplain at the university, and possibly the first in the nation. Hendi is also the Imam of the Islamic Society of Frederick and the Muslim chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. He listens to the scriptures of the Koran, the Old Testament and talk shows.