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Welcoming Strangers

Welcoming Strangers

Welcome Sign

All divine religions order welcoming and showing hospitality to strangers and prohibit mistreating or oppressing them

Indeed, all divine religions order welcoming and showing hospitality to strangers and prohibit mistreating or oppressing them. According to such religions, doing good to the strangers is considered an act of righteousness.

The Old Testament commands justice and love for the strangers, including giving them food and clothing. We read the following verse: “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:18)

Again, the Old Testament orders good treatment and love for strangers. Moreover, it forbids wronging, mistreating and oppressing the strangers. We read the following verses:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21)

The New Testament also encourages hospitality to strangers. In the New Testament, we read the following verse: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Under Islam, a stranger is referred to as “Ibn Al-Sabil” (wayfarer) who is paid a lot of attention by Islam. The Qur’an considers that it is an act of righteousness to give money to a wayfarer.

We read the following verse:

Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler… (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

The Qur’an orders doing good to wayfarers. We read the following verse:

Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler… (An-Nisaa’ 4:36)

A wayfarer was entitled to a share in the war booty. In the Qur’an, we read the following verse:

And know that anything you obtain of war booty – then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] traveler… (Al-Anfal 8:41)

A wayfarer was also entitled to a share in the Zakah expenditures. In the Qur’an, we read the following verse:

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. (At-Tawbah 9:60)

Prophet Muhammad urged Muslims to give money to the wayfarers. Abu Said Al-Khudry reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “This money is green and sweet. It is a good companion of the Muslim who gives from it to the orphan, the needy and the wayfarers.” (Ahmad)

According to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the one who denies a wayfarer his surplus water is one of three persons at whom God will not look on the Day of Judgment.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Glory be to Him) said, “There are three persons whom Allah will not look at on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them and theirs shall be a severe punishment. They are: 1- A man possessed superfluous water, on a way and he withheld it from wayfarers. 2- A man who gave a pledge of allegiance to a ruler and he gave it only for worldly benefits. If the ruler gives him something he gets satisfied, and if the ruler withholds something from him, he gets dissatisfied. 3- And a man displayed his goods for sale after the `Asr prayer and he said, ‘By Allah, except Whom none has the right to be worshipped, I have been given so much for my goods,’ and somebody believes him (and buys them).” (Al-Bukhari)

According to Islam, a wayfarer is entitled to alms even if he is rich enough. The Messenger of Allah said: “Alms are not lawful for a rich person except in the cause of Allah, or to a wayfarer or a poor neighbor who is given alms and so he gives you a gift or invites you.” (Abu Dawud)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- Sunan Abu Dawud

4- Musnad Al-Imam Ahmad

5- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

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Honoring Parents

Honoring Parents

Children with their parent

All divine religions order honoring parents as an act of gratitude

In fact, all divine religions order honoring parents as an act of gratitude and promise great reward for kindness to parents both in this world and the Hereafter. Besides, they prescribe severe punishment for those who are undutiful to their parents or at least foretell their ensuing suffering and aberration.

In the Old Testament, we read the following verse: “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Also in the Old Testament, we come across another verse which states that the one who curses his father or his mother will go astray. We read the following verse: “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.” (Proverbs 20:20)

Moreover, the Old Testament prescribes the death sentence for smiting one’s parents. We read the following verse: “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (Exodus 21:15)

The New Testament orders children to obey their parents in everything for this pleases God. In the New Testament, we read the following verse: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)

The New Testament promises those who honor their parents that they will have happy, long lives. We read the following verses: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)

The Qur’an frequently orders kind treatment for parents. More than once, the Qur’an commands children to do good to their parents. For example, we read the following verses:

And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good…” (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good… (An-Nisaa’ 4:36)

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and give to parents good treatment…” (Al-An`am 6:151)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and give to parents good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (Al-Israa’ 23-24)

Reflecting on the above verses from the Qur’an, we find out that the order to honor parents is placed second to that to worship Allah alone without associating anything with Him. This pinpoints how important dutifulness to parents is. In all of the above verses, the duty towards parents is considered the most important duty towards human beings.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) included kindness to parents in the deeds most liked by Allah. `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: ‘Which deed is most liked by Allah?’ He replied: ‘Prayer at its appointed time.’ I (again) said: ‘Then what?’ He replied: ‘Kindness to parents.’ I (again) said: ‘Then what?’ He replied: ‘Earnest endeavor (Jihad) in the cause of Allah.’” (Al-Bukhari)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

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Prohibition of Blasphemy

Prohibition of Blasphemy

Blasphemy in the Abrahamic religions

All divine religions prohibit blasphemy and consider it a sin which cannot be forgiven.

In fact, all divine religions prohibit blasphemy and consider it a sin which cannot be forgiven. A believer should avoid even the situations which are more likely to lead to blasphemy.

The Old Testament forbids blasphemy. We read the following verse: “Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.” (Exodus 22:28)

The New Testament tells us that blasphemy is an eternal sin which can never be forgiven. We read the following verse: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)

In Islam, even indirect blasphemy is prohibited. For example, Islam prohibits Muslims from insulting pagans lest they should insult God. In the Qur’an, we read the following verse:

And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah , lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do. (Al-An`am 6:108)

According to the Islamic scripture, God considers that the allegation that He has taken a son to Himself is blasphemy. We read the following Qudsi hadith:

“The son of Adam disbelieved Me and he had no right to do so. And he reviled Me and he had no right to do so. As for his disbelieving Me, it is his saying: ‘He will not remake me as He made me at first,’ though the initial creation [of him] is not easier for Me than remaking him. As for his reviling Me, it is his saying: ‘Allah has taken to Himself a son,’ while I am the One, the Everlasting Refuge. I begot not nor was I begotten, and there is none comparable to Me.’” (Al-Bukhari & Al-Nasa`i)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- Sunan An-Nasa`i

4- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

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Fasting Across the Divine Scriptures

Fasting Across the Divine Scriptures

fasting in the Abrahamic religions

Fasting is one of the major acts of worship which are observed by the followers of all Abrahamic religions.

By Editorial Staff

It goes without saying that fasting is one of the major acts of worship which are observed by the followers of all Abrahamic religions. However, the followers of each religion have their own form of fasting, but they still have many practices and beliefs in common when it comes to fasting.

For example, as far as sincerity is concerned, we notice that all divine religions stress the importance of sincerity with regard to fasting. They prohibit showoff in matters of worship in general and fasting in particular.

The New Testament tells the Christians to hide their fasting and intend it for God only so that they will receive reward for it. In the Bible, we read the following verses: “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

In the Islamic scripture, we come to know that fasting is the only act of worship which cannot be done for the purposes of showoff since fasting cannot be seen or monitored. Ibn Shihab reports that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There is no showoff in fasting” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Prophet Muhammad quotes God as saying: “Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting, which is (exclusively) for Me, and I will reward him for it…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In a narration by Muslim, Prophet Muhammad went on, “The reward of every (good) deed of a person is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. The reward of observing fasting is different from the reward of other good deeds; fasting is for Me, and I Alone will give its reward. The person observing fasting abstains from food and drink only for My sake.”

As a matter of fact, according to the three Abrahamic religions, fasting has special etiquette, and what is more it can be valid only if it is associated with the observance of other acts of worship and abstinence from certain prohibited acts and statements.

For example, during fasting in particular and at all times in general, wickedness and oppression must be avoided. Besides, the hungry must be fed, the homeless poor must be taken in, the naked must be covered.

The Old Testament tells us that the fasting during which man’s pleasure is sought and workers are oppressed is not valid. It also states that if a fasting person quarrels or fights with others, he will not be able to make his voice heard to Heaven and so his fasting will not be acceptable to God.

In the Bible, we read: “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it? Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (Isaiah 58:3-7)

The Islamic scripture lets us know that during fasting man must not seek one’s own pleasure. Rather, he/she must seek God’s pleasure only and restrain his/her own sensual pleasures by refraining from having food, drink or sexual intercourse as I indicated above. During fasting, Muslims are allowed to eat, drink and have sexual intercourse at night only: from dawn to sunset.

In the Qur’an, God says:

And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

In so far as wickedness, oppression, quarreling, fighting and fisting are concerned, Prophet Muhammad made clear that a fasting person must not indulge in obscene language or even raise his voice. Even though somebody reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: “I am fasting.”

Prophet Muhammad said: “Fasting is a shield. When anyone of you is observing fast, he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: ‘I am fasting.’” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

As for sharing bread with the hungry, the fasting of a Muslim cannot be accepted unless alms are given before the end of the holy month of Ramadan. There are special alms that must be given during Ramadan to feed the hungry, called “Zakat al-Fitr” (breakfast alms).

Ibn `Umar reported that the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) imposed Zakat al-Fitr for Ramadan in the amount of one Saa` (a unit of measurement which is equivalent to three kilograms) of dates or one Saa` of barley on the slave and free, male and female, young and old Muslims, and ordered that it be given before people went out to pray (the Feast Prayer at the end of Ramadan.)”

Moreover, feeding the hungry served as expiation for breaking fast by those Muslims who cannot observe fasting.

In the Qur’an, God says:

And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day] is imposed (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Concerning taking in the homeless poor, covering the naked and any other charitable acts, Muslims are recommended to do as many charitable acts as possible while fasting throughout Ramadan. It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when he meets Angel Gabriel. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when Gabriel met him was even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds) (Al-Bukhari)

About the merit of good deeds in Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad said: “Whosoever tries to draw nearer to God by performing any virtuous deed in this month, for him shall be such reward as if he had performed an obligatory observance in any other time of the year. And whoever performs an obligatory observance, for him shall be the reward of seventy obligatory observances in any other time of the year.” (Ibn Khuzaymah & al-Bayhaqi)

Muslims are instructed to clothe, accommodate and shield one another in Ramadan in particular and at all times in general. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone relieves a believer of one of the hardships of this worldly life, God will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection. If anyone makes it easy for the one who is indebted to him (while finding it difficult to repay), God will make it easy for him in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. If anyone shields a Muslim, God will shield him in this world and in the Hereafter. God helps His slave as long as he helps his brother.” (Muslim)

To conclude, though the form fasting assumes differs from one Abrahamic religion to another, such religions still share basic etiquette of fasting. For example, all Abrahamic religions require sincerity for fasting, associate it with certain acts of worship and stipulate that certain prohibitions are shunned.

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- Sahih Muslim

4- Sunan Al-Bayhaqi

5- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

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Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible (2/2)

Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible (2/2)

Editorial Staff

In the first part, we elaborated on the direct references to Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible. In this second part, we will highlight the indirect references to Makkah in the Bible.

Indirect References to Makkah

New Jerusalem

Makkah

The indirect references to Makkah in the Bible involve a “New Jerusalem”, “Way of Holiness”, “Villages of Kedar”, and “Cornerstone”

When Jesus Christ was asked about the place where worship must be conducted, he stated that worship will be conducted at a new place other than Jerusalem. In the New Testament, we read:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. (John 4:19-21)

Way of Holiness

Again, the Bible tells us about a well of water gushing out in the desert and a way called “Way of Holiness” over which the unclean shall not pass and those who walk on it shall not go astray. In the Bible, we read:

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. 9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:5-10)

Villages of Kedar

The Bible commands singing the praises of God at the villages inhabited by Kedar, in reference to Talbiyah, Takbir and Tahlil in Makkah. It is noteworthy that Kedar is a son of Ishmael and a forefather of Arabs. His offspring lived in Arabia. We read:

Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. (Isaiah 42:10-11)

In spite of the claim that the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah talks about an alleged Zion, the descriptions given therein are more applicable to Makkah. It is Makkah to which nations come from afar and kings come to the brightness of its rising and all gather together  according to the following Qur’anic verses:

And [mention, O Muhammad], when We designated for Abraham the site of the House, [saying], “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who stand [in prayer] and those who bow and prostrate.

And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass (Al-Hajj 22:27-28)

It is Makkah to which the abundance of the sea is turned and the wealth of the nations shall come according to the following Qur’anic verse:

Have we not established for them a safe sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things as provision from Us? But most of them do not know. (Al-Qasas 28:57)

It is Makkah which is covered by a multitude of camels and to which flocks of Kedar are gathered according to the following Qur’anic verse:

And the camels and cattle We have appointed for you as among the symbols of Allah; for you therein is good. So mention the name of Allah upon them when lined up [for sacrifice]; and when they are [lifeless] on their sides, then eat from them and feed the needy and the beggar. Thus have We subjected them to you that you may be grateful. (Al-Hajj 22:36)

It is Makkah whose gates are open continually, day and night, and are not shut, according to the following Qur’anic verse:

And [mention] when We made the House a place of return for all people and [a place of] security. And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer. And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, [saying], “Purify My House for those who perform Tawaf and those who are staying [there] for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].” (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

It is Makkah where neither violence, devastation, and destruction shall not be heard, according to the following Qur’anic verse:

And al-Masjid al-Haram, which We made for the people – equal are the resident therein and one from outside; and [also] whoever intends [a deed] therein of deviation [in religion] or wrongdoing – We will make him taste of a painful punishment. (Al-Hajj 22:25)

Cornerstone

The New Testament quotes Jesus as referring to a stone rejected by builders, becoming the cornerstone where the kingdom of God will be taken away and given to a people producing its fruits. We read:

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. (Matthew 21:42-43)

We also read: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22-23)

The Bible also tells us about a stone, breaking images into pieces and becoming a great mountain filling the whole earth. We read: “As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34-35)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

Read Also:

Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible (1/2)

Hajj (Pilgrimage) between Symbolic Worship and Responsiveness to Abraham’s Call to Monotheism

Soucre Link
Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible (1/2)

Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible (1/2)

By Editorial Staff

Makkah

The direct references to “Makkah” in the Bible include “Baka” and “Paran”

Despite the systematic distortion of the divine revelation currently contained in the so-called “Bible”, we still find relics of the truth which was sent down by God in the Holy Scriptures. Distortion does not mean that scriptures are totally written down by human beings. It rather means that some parts are from God, while others are not.

Distortion altered the clear references to Makkah (Mecca) in the Holy Scriptures contained in the Bible just as it did other dogmatic issues which are even more important and pivotal. No wonder, in the Bible, God is purported to need to have rest and to feel regret like human beings so that a son can be ascribed to Him. Also, “begotten” is interpolated and given as a description of Jesus to distinguish him from the other sons of God in the Bible so that people may believe in his divinity. Similarly, the prophets and messengers of God are purported to have drunk alcohol, got intoxicated and committed adultery in order to pave the way for belief in the alleged salvation brought by Jesus. Likewise, most biblical prophecies of Prophet Muhammad were obliterated, and the remaining prophecies are denied and misinterpreted. Therefore, it is not unlikely that the clear-cut references to Makkah are equally blotted out.

In spite of all this distortion, corruption, adulteration, and interpolation, the Bible still includes references, direct and indirect, to Makkah. There are still questions which the distorters cannot answer though they erased most facts and left only little genuine divine revelation in the Bible.

Direct References to Makkah

Baka

The Bible makes reference of “Baka”, which is one of the various names of Makkah. In the Bible, we read: “As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” (Psalm 84:6)

The above variant of Makkah is similarly cited in the Qur’an. We read:

Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Baka – blessed and guidance for the worlds. (Aal `Imran 3:96)

The eighty fourth chapter (Psalm 84) tells us about a sacred place accommodating the courts of the Lord, for which souls long even faint, at which heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God, God’s praise is sung and there is a valley called “the Valley of Baca”. The chapter also tells us that this is a dry place made into a place of springs in the vicinity of tents, at which a day is better than a thousand elsewhere.

Do those descriptions not resemble those ones the Qur’an quotes Abraham as giving?

Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful (Ibrahim 14:37)

Do the above biblical descriptions not resemble those given by Prophet Muhammad? It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may God be pleased with him) that Prophet Muhammad said: “One prayer in my Mosque is better than one thousand prayers in any other mosque excepting Al-Masjid-AI-Haram (the holy mosque in Makkah).” (Al-Bukhari)

In fact, all of those descriptions apply to Makkah. Supposing that the intended place is somewhere in the vicinity of Zion, where is the place in the vicinity of Zion for which souls long even faint, at which heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God, God’s praise is sung and there is a valley called “the Valley of Baca”, and which is a dry place made into a place of springs in the vicinity of tents, at which a day is better than a thousand elsewhere?

Paran

Makkah is also referred to as “Paran” in the Bible. While we do not confirm that “Paran” is an old name of Makkah, it still refers to it given the associated indications and implications. So, we are not sure if “Paran” is actually an old name of Makkah or the word “Makkah” was deleted and replaced with “Paran”.

The Bible tells us that a well of water gushed out in the Desert of Paran, from which Hagar drank and gave her son Ishmael to drink. This consists with the above verses making mention of the Valley of Baka which is made into a place of springs. So, the Bible tells us about a well of water gushing out in the Valley of Baka and the Desert of Paran as well. We read:

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. (Genesis 21:14-21)

Not to mention the well of water, the Bible tells us that Ishmael grew up and lived in the Desert of Paran and God undertook to make him into a great nation.

Now, we may ask: if Paran does not refer to Makkah, where is the alleged “Paran” where a well of water gushed out and Ishmael lived and begot a great nation? If it is located in Palestine or Sinai or in between as claimed by Christians, where are the well and the great nation over there? Is it not logical that a historic place like that should be famous and well-known for everybody?

In fact, we do not know about a place where a well gushed out for Hagar and her son Ishmael and at which Ishmael lived and begot a great nation other than Makkah.

It is curious that the above verses of the Bible closely resemble the narration reported on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (may God be pleased with him). Ibn `Abbas narrated:

When Abraham had differences with his wife, (because of her jealousy of Hajar, Ishmael’s mother), he took Ishmael and his mother and went away. They had a water-skin with them containing some water, Ishmael’s mother used to drink water from the water-skin so that her milk would increase for her child. When Abraham reached Makkah, he made her sit under a tree and afterwards returned home. Ishmael’s mother followed him, and when they reached Kada’, she called him from behind, ‘O Abraham! To whom are you leaving us?’ He replied, ‘(I am leaving you) to God’s (Care).’ She said, ‘I am satisfied to be with God.’ She returned to her place and started drinking water from the water-skin, and her milk increased for her child. When the water had all been used up, she said to herself, ‘I’d better go and look so that I may see somebody.’ She ascended the Safa mountain and looked, hoping to see somebody, but in vain. When she came down to the valley, she ran till she reached the Marwa mountain. She ran to and fro (between the two mountains) many times. They she said to herself, ‘i’d better go and see the state of the child,’ she went and found it in a state of one on the point of dying. She could not endure to watch it dying and said (to herself), ‘If I go and look, I may find somebody.’ She went and ascended the Safa mountain and looked for a long while but could not find anybody. Thus she completed seven rounds (of running) between Safa and Marwa. Again she said (to herself), ‘I’d better go back and see the state of the child.’ But suddenly she heard a voice, and she said to that strange voice, ‘Help us if you can offer any help.’ Lo! It was Gabriel (who had made the voice). Gabriel hit the earth with his heel like this (Ibn `Abbas hit the earth with his heel to Illustrate it), and so the water gushed out. Ishmael’s mother was astonished and started digging. (Abu Al-Qasim) (i.e. the Prophet) said, “If she had left the water, (flow naturally without her intervention), it would have been flowing on the surface of the earth.”) Ishmael’s mother started drinking from the water and her milk increased for her child. Afterwards some people of the tribe of Jurhum, while passing through the bottom of the valley, saw some birds, and that astonished them, and they said, ‘Birds can only be found at a place where there is water.’ They sent a messenger who searched the place and found the water, and returned to inform them about it. Then they all went to her and said, ‘O Ishmael’s mother! Will you allow us to be with you (or dwell with you)?’ (And thus they stayed there.) Later on her boy reached the age of puberty and married a lady from them. Then an idea occurred to Abraham which he disclosed to his wife (Sarah), ‘I want to call on my dependents I left (at Makkah).’ When he went there, he greeted (Ishmael’s wife) and said, ‘Where is Ishmael?’ She replied, ‘He has gone out hunting.’ Abraham said (to her), ‘When he comes, tell him to change the threshold of his gate.’ When he came, she told him the same whereupon Ishmael said to her, ‘You are the threshold, so go to your family (i.e. you are divorced).’ Again Abraham thought of visiting his dependents whom he had left (at Makkah), and he told his wife (Sarah) of his intentions. Abraham came to Ishmael’s house and asked. “Where is Ishmael?” Ishmael’s wife replied, “He has gone out hunting,” and added, “Will you stay (for some time) and have something to eat and drink?’ Abraham asked, ‘What is your food and what is your drink?’ She replied, ‘Our food is meat and our drink is water.’ He said, ‘O God! Bless their meals and their drink.” Abu Al-Qasim (i.e. Prophet) said, “Because of Abraham’s invocation there are blessings (in Makkah).” Once more Abraham thought of visiting his family he had left (at Makkah), so he told his wife (Sarah) of his decision. He went and found Ishmael behind the Zamzam well, mending his arrows. He said, “O Ishmael, Your Lord has ordered me to build a house for Him.” Ishmael said, “Obey (the order of) your Lord.” Abraham said, “God has also ordered me that you should help me therein.” Ishmael said, “Then I will do.” So, both of them rose and Abraham started building (the Ka`ba) while Ishmael went on handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, “O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily, You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah 2.127). When the building became high and the old man (i.e. Abraham) could no longer lift the stones (to such a high position), he stood over the stone of Al- Maqam and Ishmael carried on handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, ‘O our Lord! Accept (this service) from us, Verily You are All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Al-Baqarah 2:127)

It is worth noting that the Bible tells us that God shined from mount Paran. We read:

And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them… (Deuteronomy 33:1-3)

We do not find any interpretation for such shining in the Bible, but we find such interpretation in the Qur’an. We read:

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful. (Al-A`raf 7:157)

O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from God a light and a clear Book. By which God guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path. (Al-Ma’idah 5:15-16)

And thus We have revealed to you an inspiration of Our command. You did not know what is the Book or [what is] faith, but We have made it a light by which We guide whom We will of Our servants. And indeed, [O Muhammad], you guide to a straight path (Ash-Shura 42:52)

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References:

1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)

2- Sahih Al-Bukhari

3- The Holy Bible (Visit biblegateway.com)

Read Also:

Makkah (Mecca) in the Bible (2/2)

Hajj (Pilgrimage) between Symbolic Worship and Responsiveness to Abraham’s Call to Monotheism

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