Saturday, June 18, 2011

Quran Surah III: 67 The True Religion of Abraham

It has become popular in some circles to use the term "Abrahamic Faith" to describe the religions that sprang forth from the impulse that was directed through Abraham. Although the patriarch pre-dates the three great Near Eastern religions, a central question has always lingered as to what religious forms he practiced. Was he a practicing Jew? In other words, was his way of worshiping God and carrying out his religious daily practices something that Jews would recognize and say, "he is one of us"? Since Christians have, in large part, claimed the Hebrew scriptures as their own, and have historically believed that much of the Old Testament foreshadowed their own history, than Christians are also likely to ask, "Was Abraham a proto-Christian? Did he already recognize and know that Jesus would descend from him?" In fact, the Gospels spend a bit of time trying to draw out Jesus' lineage. Muslims, too, have entered into the debate by insisting that Abraham's practices were similar - or the same - as Muslim practices. So, what religion was Abraham?

The Qur'an offers tremendous and radical insight:

"Abraham was not a Jew,
Nor was he a Christian;
But he was true in faith;
And surrendered his will to Allah's,
And he joined not gods with God.

Among humans, the nearest relatives are those
that, like Abraham, surrender their will to Allah."

The point is that Abraham was neither Jew, nor Christian, nor Muslim. Instead, he was one who practiced a deep existential surrender.

This, in deed, is a dividing line between fundamentalist Muslims, who claim that Abraham literally practiced the rituals of Islam and that Muslims restored what was lost and Sufis, who understand that the verse points to a deeper state of being within oneself.

If one follows the logic of the verse than one finds the miracle of unity within it. One doesn't reach Abraham through the rituals or beliefs of any of the three great Near Eastern faiths. One only approaches Abraham through an inner state of surrendering one's will to Allah (the Light).


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