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3745 Kimball Avenue ~ Memphis, Tennessee 38111
From the Desk of Fr. Jamie...                     VIEW PAST SERMONS HERE                        

...                    

March 2014


Dear Parishioners,


I needed to learn more about Islam so I bought a book called No god, but God by Reza Aslan. Aslan is a scholar and practicing Muslim, but not the kind of Muslim usually featured on the evening news. My reading of him suggests that he is a moderate and a far cry from the Islamic fundamentalists who grab so much of the headlines.


Muhammad never committed his words to writing. The Qur’an is based on his words when he went into a trance. Islam says that in those states the Archangel Gabriel recited Allah’s words to him. Some of those were written down at the time, but most were remembered by his followers and then written down later.  


“What a coincidence!” I said. For Jesus never wrote down his teachings. We first have the oral sayings recalled by those who heard him, but it was not until around 69 C.E. that we believe the present Gospel of Mark received its final shape.


In other words, we have to depend upon those who walked with Muhammad and Jesus while they were on earth for the leaders’ words and in some cases we rely on several generations removed from the original followers.


Both the Qur’an and the Gospels leave ample room for further interpretation. The Qur’an needed expanding into a larger set of laws called the Shariah. By the way, the Roman Catholic Church produced a similar document based upon the morality of scripture.


These Religions developed from a loose collection of followers centered on the oral teachings of a Master to an institutional Religion with an ethical system, liturgical expressions and theological understandings. Despite this, there often arises a desire to get back to the lifestyle of the Master and his earliest followers. Why is this? Because the maturation of these Religions is fraught with cultural bias, reinterpretation through schools of philosophy and distorted by selfish motivations of those in religious and secular power.


In other words, Islam relies on the Qur’an and Christians on the New Testament, but for example, the attitude towards women expressed in the Qur’an does not reflect the level of discrimination seen in certain Islamic cultures. In the New Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity receives scant and dubious recognition.


The irony here is that the disagreements between Islam and Christianity have more to do with cultural differences and interpretations of the founders than the words found in the scared documents. Yes, differences exist, but if you place the Qur’an beside Matthew, Mark and Luke, you will find that we have more in common than not. Muhammad endorsed both the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospels as revelations from God. The problem is these Religions let two thousand years of war, mistrust, bigotry, propaganda, greed, power grabbing and selfishness turn what could have been a “live and let live” relationship into an environment of animosity.

 

Jamie+