From firstname.lastname@example.org (Bob Kirk) Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam Subject: Re: The Christianity of the Qur'an Date: Thu Dec 12 16:25:29 EST 1996 Organization: Lambton College, Sarnia, CANADA Message-Id: <email@example.com> The Christianity of the Qur'an Uncovered - Part 2 This article continues the examination of the influence of various syncretized belief systems on the author of the Qur'an and hence the Christianity of the Qur'an. It has already been shown that Muhammed was likely aware, but not intimately familiar with the Manichaean-Gnostic ideas of the nature of the person of Christ, the prophets, and the Holy Spirit, and also the Syrian presentation of the Gospel by various missionary presences in that area. There is no lack of proof to support the idea that a real connection existed between early Islam and these Gnostic sects. The followers of Muhammed were frequently (and precisely in the traditions of the prophet's war-like expeditions, or 'razia') called Sabians by his opponents, a word which was the true common name for one of the Gnostic groups here mentioned. This title can not have come from the Qur'an. The only occasions that the Sabians are mentioned in the Qur'an, are as a particular community distinct and different from the Christians, Jews and 'believers', or Muslims. It is highly unlikely then that this name would have been applied by critics/opponents to the earliest Muslims as a nick-name, having no foundation, and being a clearly distinct proper noun from the pages of their (yet uncompiled) Qur'an. It is clear then that the life (and teachings) of Muhammed had a certain relationship with these Sabians. The usage of a particular religious term - hanif - which was particularly employed by Muhammed in Medina, and in the later years at Mecca, points to more evidence in the same direction. In the Meccan suras the words denotes a 'monotheist', and is used to distinguish against the idol worshippers (ie 98:4, 22:32, 10:15 etc). In sura 30:29, it is mentioned that the natural religion points to belief in a single God, and this corresponds to the nature and disposition of mankind. 'So direct thy countenance to religion as a hanif, in accordance with those God-given predispositions which He has given man. Allah's creation can not be altered. This is the true religion.' During the later period in Mecca, and above all, in Medina, the word 'hanif' is usually employed in reference to Abraham, where the Qur'ans author emphasizes the point that, 'Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a 'Hanif', a Muslim, one who did not belong to the idol-worshippers.'(sura 3:60, 2:129). Since Abraham is thus represented as a 'Hanif', but was neither a Jew nor Christian, Muhammed must have viewed him (as he did not have the Torah nor Gospel) as a man who had followed the above mentioned God-given disposition, and had cut himself free of the worship of idols. The Christians and Jews therefore, had no right to claim Abraham as their own, as he acted according to natural instinct, requiring neither the Torah nor Gospel to submit himself truly to God. 'Hanif' thus means for Muhammed, as indicated (in the majority of uses) one who is not of the idol-worshippers, yet is neither a Jew nor Christian, attaching themself to one of these religious communities. The Arabic word likely comes from the Syriac word 'hanpa' meaning heathen. On first glance this seems to contradict, not confirm the statement on origin. How does this word mean 'monotheist' when it first meant 'heathen'? The Syrian Bible uses the word 'hanpa' for heathen in general, and in ecclesiastical language for Greek heathenism in particular. The Christian Syrians did not use 'hanpa' for heretics in general, but only for those whose standpoint approximated some of the positions in Greek heathenism, that they could be considered apostates from the Syrian church, and Christian religion. Thus Mani's teachings, were plainly called 'hanputa', heathanism. The Sabians were first called 'heathen' in works written after the Arabic conquest, but evidence suggests that they were known by this term at a much earlier date. If Manichaeans and Sabians were therefore directly called 'hanpe', heathens, one can see how gradually in Arabic this term could come to mean a monotheist who is neither a Jew nor a Christian. Muhammed however, seems to understand the word 'hanif' to mean a man who seems to have come to the understanding (through God given predisposition) of the existence of only one God, and a faith (monotheistic religion) delivered to all peoples at different times, through different prophets) yet who has not attached themselves to any of the rites or laws of the Jewish or Christian positions. This can hardly be disputed. Even the recognized Arabic scholar, N.J. Dawood, born in Baghdad, and a master of the Arabic tongue (as evidenced in his translation of the Qur'an, and Tales from the Thousand and One Nights) in his introduction to 'The Koran' writes, 'Impressed by Jewish and Christian monotheism, a number of theists, or spiritual funda- mentalists, known as hanifs had already rejected idolatry for an ascetic religion of their own (perhaps Manichaeaism, my comment?). Muhammed appears to have been influenced by them.'(1) Thus, the leading thought of the Manichaean movement had detached itself from the sect which carried it, and as so many scientific and philosophic ideas before and since, lost the indications of its origin as it was syncretized into the new Islamic movement. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1. Dawood, N.J., The Koran pp 1,2.
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