Saturday, March 1, 2008

A short contrast between Judiasm and Islam

One of the reasons that Judaism left the dark ages was that Jews could disagree with God, in fact to have conversations with Him mano e theo and thus to grow and change as civilization grew and changed. This would never be permitted in Islam and as a consequence it is impossible for Muslims to disagree with Allah's divine word or to change the absolute truth as embodied in the Quran.

I am reminded of a Hasidic story:

A rabbi is traveling on a country road near the town of Góra Kalwaria in Poland when he spots a farmer poking his fist at the sky and yelling and stamping his feet on the ground. He approaches closer and he hears the farmer screaming, "I can't believe it! I spent the entire week planting thousands of tomato seeds and here you let these birds peck and eat all of them. How could you do this to me. Sometimes, G-d, I just don't understand you at all. I will admit that you did a beautiful job with the cabbages, and my wife thanks you, but here I'm begging you, I'll plant the tomatoes all over again, but please let them take root and grow, is that fine with you?"

The rabbi, shocked to hear someone speak to the Lord in this manner, admonishes the farmer, and proceeds to show him the proper way to address the Almighty. From then on, the farmer prays to G-d in a respectful manner, repeating the verses in a prayer book left by the Rabbi.

A few weeks later back at home, the Rabbi is startled from his slumber by a booming voice.

"Who's there?" the frightened rabbi sputtered.

The voice rumbled, "I am the Lord God of Israel, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, and I am much angry with you."

The rabbi squeaked in fear, "But, my Lord G-d, what did I do to deserve your wrath?"

Thus said the Lord, "There was a farmer near the town of Góra Kalwaria who prayed to me many times each day. He told me of his daily chores, of his plantings and his harvests. I could hear the pride in his voice when he mentioned how his daughter had blossomed before his eyes. Of all the manner of things he told me, all were from his heart and I could feel his love for me when he spoke.

"But then one day some meddling Rabbi came along and taught him to pray, not from his heart, not from the soul I gave him, but from a rote jangle of words from a prayer book. Someone else's prayers that I have heard a myriad myriad repetitions before. And so now, instead of a sincere conversation with a soul I created, I hear sounds without meaning, words that are not his, and no news of his joy of farming my Earth, or what his dreams and wishes are for his life.

"You are to go back and give me back the heart and soul of the prayers I was used to getting. Let this farmer speak to me again directly and with his own words from the heart."

The Rabbi returned to the farmer and told him what God had said. And in the days and years that followed, if by chance you were to travel upon a country road near the town of Góra Kalwaria, you might have seen a farmer laughing or crying, speaking to the clouds above, and having a most joyous conversation with his creator.

So while Jews are allowed to talk to their God whenever they choose and in whatever direction they like, poor Muslims are sentenced to a life of repetition and rote, bound to perform the Salaah, the fixed ritual of mortared worship, unable to deviate from the inviolate order of words and thus are prisoners of their religion.

1 comment:

bernieg1 said...

Thanks for reprinting the story from my article Albino Dogs and Mutant Religions, it's appreciated.