Tepat menjelang hari Paskah (Yom Pesach), Yesus masuk ke kota Yerusalem dengan mengendarai seekor keledai, dan tepat di hari Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) Muhammad SAW juga masuk ke kota Madinah dengan mengendarai seekor onta. Kota ini disebut Medinta oleh kaum Yahudi, dan disebut Yatsrib oleh kaum Arab; dan di kota inilah Sang Nabi SAW memasukinya dengan mengendarai seekor onta menjelang Yom Kippur dan disambut secara masif oleh masyarakat di sana.

Berkaitan dengan nama kuno Yatsrib atau Medinta tersebut, Prof. Philip K. Hitti menyatakan:

“Yathrib (Y-th-r-b of the Sabaean inscriptions, Jathrippa of Ptolemy)… In the hands of its Jewish inhabitants, the banu Nadir and banu Qurayzah, the town became a leading agricultural centre… It was possibly these Aramaic-speaking Jews who changed the name Yathrib into Aramaic Medinta, the explanation of the name al-Madinah (Medina) as “the town” (of the Prophet) being comparatively late one. The two leading non-Jewish tribes were the Aws and the Khazraj, who came originally from al-Yaman”, see Philip K. Hitti. “History of the Arabs: from the Earliest Times to the Present” (New York: the Macmillan Company, 1951), p. 104

Yom Kippur adalah hari ke-10 bulan Tishri – ‘Asora de Tishri (Imamat 16:29), sejajar dengan hari ke-10 bulan Muharram – ‘Ashura min Muharram. Prof. Reuven Firestone menyatakan:

“The Yom Kippur fast is probably the same fast as the evening-to-evening ‘Ashura fast on the tenth of the Islamic month of Muharram, introduced by Muhammad to the community of Medina in 622. In fact, the Arabic name ‘Ashura may well derive from the Aramaic name for Yom Kippur ‘Asora de Tishri meaning “tenth of Tishri (Leviticus 16:29)… In the ancient Jerusalem Temple, elaborate rituals took place on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the calender year, to expiate or atone for the sins of the community of Israel”, Reuven Firestone. “Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims” (New York: Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 2001), p. 173

Berkaitan dengan keistimewaan hari Pesach (Paskah) dan Yom Kippur (Hari Penebusan) tentu saja hal Ini berkaitan dengan kemunculan 2 orang yang kehadirannya sangat dinantikan pada saat Pesach dan Yom Kippur tersebut. Hal ini sesuai dengan nubuatan akan adanya 2 orang istimewa yang akan datang, yang nantinya mereka masing-masing akan mengendarai seekor keledai dan seekor onta, sebagaimana yang termaktub dalam kitab Zohar yang dikompilasi oleh Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi), generasi Tana’im; dan beliau adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph, see Rabbi Itzhak Shapira. “The Return of the Kosher Pig. The Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought” (Clarksville, Maryland: Lederer Books, 2013), p. 295. Bila Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph, maka Rabbi Akiva sendiri adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (Eliezer ha-Gadol), dan Onkelos sendiri, sang penulis Targum Onkelos ternyata beliau juga murid langsung dari Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (tractate Megillah 3a), see Israel Drazin and Stanley M. Wagner. “Onkelos on the Torah: Understanding the Bible Text. Genesis.” (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2011), p. xviii.

Selain termaktub dalam kitab Zohar yang dikompilasi oleh Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi), nubuatan tentang munculnya 2 orang istimewa yang akan datang itu, ternyata juga termaktub dalam kitab Pirke de Rav Eliezer, yang dikompilasi oleh Rav Eliezer ben Hyrcanos, murid langsung dari Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (1-80 M.). Bila Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) murid langsung dari Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph (50-132 M), maka Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph (50-132 M) adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (Eliezer ha-Gadol). Dengan demikian fakta sejarah justru membuktikan bahwa Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph (50-132 M.) adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus; dan Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanos sendiri adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai (1-80 M.), dan Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai adalah murid langsung dari Rabbi Hillel the Elder, see Jacob Neusner. “The Dictionary of Ancient Rabbis” (Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003), pp. 53-54, 239.

Jadi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, murid Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph; dan Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph, murid Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus juga punya murid yang lain, yakni Onqelos yang menyusun Targum Onkelos. Dengan demikian, Onkelos dan Rabbi Akiva ben Yoseph adalah saudara seperguruan yang mewarisi sanad keilmuan secara langsung dari Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. Oleh karena itulah, kedudukan kitab utama, yakni kitab Zohar, Targum Onkelos dan Pirke de Rav Eliezer ketiganya sederajat dan memiliki otoritas yang sama dalam Judaism.

Bulan Muharram adalah Ra’su Shanah dalam Islam, sejajar dengan Bulan Tishri adalah Rosh ha-Shanah dalam Judaism.

Selamat. מזל אחים (mazel achim). Anda telah menunaikan ibadah puasa Yom Kippur (‘Asora) dan selamat bagi Anda yang telah berpuasa pada hari ‘Ashura.

Damai sejahtera bagi Anda semua.

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The Binding of Isaac or Ishmael? (Part 4)

Tafsir Nizam Al Qur'an

This is the last part of a 4 part article from Qur’anic Exegesis ‘Nizam-ul-Qur’an’ (نظام القرآن), written by a gifted Qur’anic Scholar from Indian Sub-Continent Sheikh Hamiduddin Farahis ( 1863-1930 AD) aguing that prophet Ismail (pbuh) as was sacrificed.

(Adaptation to English from Arabic by  Nadir Aqeel Ansari)




Fifth Argument: Only Ismail deserved to be selected for the offering

The Torah states it explicitly that Ismail was the firstborn son of Abraham and it has been the established divine commandment of the law, from the days of Adam to those of Moses, that only the firstborn son can be offered. Nothing could override the superiority of being the firstborn. How can we imagine that Abraham, who was desired by God to be a perfect subject of God in all respects, would flout the oldest dictate of the divine law, in a matter which was meant to help him excel in spiritual perfection? How could he desist from offering his firstborn to God ? How could he offer Isaac

When Isaac was neither his firstborn nor his favorite son ? Recall that Ismail was born to him in response to his prayers to God, and when the second son Isaac was born, Abraham indicated that he was quite contended with his firstborn son, Ismail. Can we think of it even for a moment that Abraham could offer something to God which was not the best and the most beloved? We know that an offering is required to be the best thing out of the available ones.

Sixth Argument: Isaac was to be multiplied Exceedingly’ and hence could not be offered in his boyhood

God promised to `multiply Isaac exceedingly’ when the good news of his birth was announced to Abraham. Whereas God’s pomise to `multiply Ismail exceedingly’ was conveyed to Abraham either after the promise to Isaac or at the same time, i.e. after the Great Sacrifice took place.

`And when Abram was ninety years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, `I am almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My convenant between you and me, and will multiply you exceedingly.’… The God said to Abraham, `As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai but Sarah shall be her name and I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.’…. Then God said: Now Sarah your wife shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac.’ (Genesis 17:1-19)

Is it pausible that God announce promise of `exceeding multiplication’ to Isaac and at the same time ask Abraham to offer him to Allah? Particularly when we know that on the occasion of the Great Sacrifice, Isaac was only a boy and had not married. He married when `Abraham was old and advanced in age.’ (Genesis 24:1) and Isacc was forty years old when he took Rebecca as wife (Genesis 25:20). And he had children when Abraham had died.

`And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, ýýthat God blessed his son Isaac.’ (Genesis 25:11)

Also, Abraham died at the age of 175 years (Genesis 25:7). Bible also records that when Jacob was born to Rebecca, Isaac was 60 years odl (Genesis 25:27). It means that when Jacob was born, Abraham was alive (160 years old) because when Isaac was born, Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 21:6). Even if we overlook the contradication between Genesis 25:11 and the above conclusion, we cannot fial to appreciate that Isaac had children at a very later age whereas the Bible and the Qur’an agree that the son offered as the Great Sacrifice was only a young boy. Therefore, it would be very difficult to carry the argument that Abraham offered Isaac after Isaac had been blessed with children.

Obviously the son could not be Isaac because if he was wanted by God as an offering in his boyhood, God’s promise that Isaac would be `multiplied exceedingly’ would have been rendered meaningless.

It may be asserted that Abraham knew beforehand that though he was offering Isaac, his son would come out alive and he would have descendants in a large number. In that case we would ask that if Abraham knew that the son he was offering to God would not die and would not only live but multiply exceedingly, how could it be termed it trial and a test of his loyalty to God ?

The Jews may still argue that the objection mentioned above valids against Muslim viewpoint as well. If Ismail were offered by Abraham, it would also have constituted an anomaly because God had also promised him a large progeny. Therefore, Ismail could have been sacrified in his boyhood. This analogy with Isaac’s case is not acceptable because of the following reasons:

  1. The promise of `exceeding multiplication’ of descendants to Isaac was made by God even before Isaac was born whereas in case of Ismail it was probably announced by God after the incident of the Great Sacrifice.
  2. In case of Ismail, the promise was made to Hagar while the command to offer him was addressed to Abraham. Whereas in Isaac’s case, the promise was made to Abraham and the order to offer him was also addressed to Abraham.
  3. In case of Isaac, the Jew believe that he was promised an `exceeding multiplication’ even before he was born, but when he was only a boy and had not married or had any children yet, Abraham was asked to sacrifice him.
Seventh Argument: The incident of Great Sacrifice occurred before Isaac’s birth

We have already shown that since the `only  son’ was offered for sacrifice and Ismail was the elder son (he was 14 years older than Isaac), it is established beyond any shadow of doubt that Ismail was offered as the Great Sacrifice. But at the same time the phrase `only son’ goes to prove that Isaac was not even born at that time. Had he born, it would have been more appropriate to use the phrase `firstborn’ instead of `only son’.

Here we would contend that not only Isaac was born after the Great Sacrifice had been offered, but his birth was actually one of the blessings that flowed from the Great Sacrifice.

There are other noteworthy facts which need to be noted in the seventeenth chapter of Genesis and which relate to the promise of `exceeding multiplication’ of the progeny of Isaac and Ismail. We also feel sure that they also point to the Great Sacrifice. The most important aspect is that they relate to some of the events of the time, which has assisted us in resolving issues that are closely related with our subject.

In this chapter Abraham is asked to submit to God in totality. At this time he is 99 years old and Isaac is not born yet. Around this time, the command of circumcision is ordained. That is why Abraham and Ismail carry out this command the same day. Ismail was then 13 years old. And God announced an everlasting covenant to Abraham and declared circumcision the emblem of this everlasting covenant and his progeny. Then God promised `exceeding multiplication’ of progeny to Ismail and also heralded the birth of Isaac and `exceeding multiplication’ of his progeny. If the contents of this chapter are kept in mind, it becomes less difficult to understand what we have to contend.

We are unable to understand how the unusual divine acts of command for complete submission and tidings of great blessings and making an everlasting covenant could be the result of a paltry ritual of circumcision. The day of announcing the desirability of circumcision cannot be the occasion of these grand promises. We believe that there was a mention of something much more grand, for which these everlasting and far reaching commandments were given. This point was deleted by the Jews. There can be only one plausible answer. It was God’s command to offer Ismail. When Abraham came out of this test honorably, he was blessed with the news of another son. However, the fact was concealed and later on obliterated from the text by the Jews. This also explains our eariler argument that Isaac’s birth was nothing more than one of the blessings that came upon Abraham as a result of the Great Sacrifice.

This evidence is further corroborated by the other details related to the Great Sacrifice, such as the conclusion that Abraham was blessed because he did not refuse his sons life to please God. We also need to appreciate the fact that the son who was offered to God had not been blessed with the good news of `exceeding multiplication’ till he succeeded in this trial; hence God’s words:

`And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, `By myself have I sworn, says the Lord, for because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son your only son, that in blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my voice.’ (Genesis 22:15-18)

This shows that the blessings showered upon Ismail, the trials faced by Abraham and Abraham’s complete submission and making an everlasting covenant form the same chain of events of the same occasion. This is the occasion when Abraham is given the good news of Isaac. One should imagine how could Isaac be offered as the Great Sacrifice when he was not even born !

The good news of Isaac’s birth is itself sufficient testimony that his birth was the result and fruit of Abraham’s total submission before the will of God which he demonstrated by offering his only son. The real spirit of the Great Sacrifice was to dedicate Ismail to God. Abraham is only fulfiling this prophecy when he says, `O that Ismail might live before you.’ The meaning of the phrase `before God’ has adequately been explained in the beginning of this tract.

Ismail was thirteen years old on the eve of the Great Sacrifice. This is the best and the most important age of one’s childhood. And childhood is adorned by all the qualities of head and heart, the beauties of body, and purities of mind and soul, the child becomes priceless and its value boundless. These years must have been the beginning of his maturity and sensibility. He would have started to attract the immense love and deep affection of his father. He must have begun to assist his father in the errands with all his beauty, upbrinning and etiquette. Who can question the fact that he loved his son and cared for him even more than he cared for himself. No doubt, offering such a dear son to God was a great trial since Abraham came out of this trial with honour, he was blessed with the eternal honour of an everlasting covenant and many other bounties. It was not because of carrying out the ritual of circumcision, which would rendered the whole thing meaningless. Indeed, those who, out of prejudice, intentionally want to avoid truth get fatelly trapped in the mire of such erroneous beliefs.

Eighth Argument: Ismail was God’s offering

Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east. This is the sum of the years of Abrahm’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abrahm breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah. (Genesis 25:5-9)

Two conclusions can safely be deduced from these verses of the Old Testament.

First, that Abraham had not sent Isaac or Ismail away from himself to far off places because they kept visiting him and attended his burial. This proximity and intimacy was not granted to the sons of his concubines.

Second, Ismail was not bequeathed any property as Isaac, nor was he given any gifts as the sons of Abraham’s concubines.

It is quite difficult to explain how Abraham could deprive his firstborn son of inheritence, a son who continued to look after him till his death, particularly when the status of the firstborn son could not be stripped of by any means.

This discrepancy can only be resolved by presuming that Ismail had been offerred and dedicated to God. And as we have shown earlier, according to the Torah, a person offered to God had no right of inheritance. (Deutronomy 10:8-9 and 18:1-3)

Ninth Argument : Before the Lord

There are several indications in the Torah which show that Ismail was dedicated to God for his service and was an offering to God. An illuminating evidence is the prayer of Abraham on the occasion of Isaac’s birth:

`Oh that Ismail might live before you.’ (Genesis 17:18)

The words `before you’ show that Ismail had been devoted to the worship of God and the service of `His house’. Otherwise only the prayer `Oh that Ismail might live’ could have sufficed. We showed earlier that the phrase `before the Lord’ means ones dedication to God and presence in and service to the Bait El (House of Lord). This is what forms the cornerstone of the concept of Ismail being sacrificed and offered to God.


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The Binding of Isaac or Ishmael? (Part 3)

Tafsir Nizam Al Qur'an

This is the third part of a 4 part article from Qur’anic Exegesis ‘Nizam-ul-Qur’an’ (نظام القرآن), written by a gifted Qur’anic Scholar from Indian Sub-Continent Sheikh Hamiduddin Farahis ( 1863-1930 AD) aguing that prophet Ismail (pbuh) as was sacrificed.

(Adaptation to English from Arabic by  Nadir Aqeel Ansari)





Despite the assertion of the Torah (Genesis, Ch 22), this author is convinced, because of the evidence in hand, that Abraham had in fact offered his son Ismail and not Isaac to Allah the Almighty.

First Argument: The abode of Abraham and Ismail

It is apparent from the context that when Abraham left to offer his son, he was accompanied by Ismail and not Isaac. It was Ismail who was residing with his father. Those who tampered with the text to introduce Isaac’s name failed to comprehend this fact and this shows that Isaac’s name is indeed a later addition.

Bible affirms that after the incident Abraham returned to Beersaba which shows that Abraham was already dwelling at Beersaba. This is explicitly stated in Chapter 21. And this is indeed the truth. Beersaba is the place where Ismail lived with his mother. This fact is further underlined when the Torah relates the event of separation of Ismail and his mother from Isaac and his mother:

“So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheva … So God was with the lad and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness.” (Genesis, 21:14-19)

This passage refers to `wilderness’ and `wilderness of Beersheba’ because Beersheba was an uninhabited wasteland. Abraham had to bore seven wells and plant trees in it and hence its name. (Beersheba means `seven wells’). This discussion leads to the following conclusions:

  1. Ismail and her mother Hagar dwelt in Beersheba.
  2. This place was away from the abode of Isaac and his mother.
  3. Abraham also lived here because it was from this place that he left for the sacrifice and then returned, after the sacrifice.

The abode of Sarah was at a distance from this Beersheba; that is why Abraham had to undertake a journey when he heard of Sarah’s death:

“So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.” (Genesis, 23:2)

This shows that on the day Abraham proceeded to sacrifice his son, he took Ismail with him who was residing with him in Beersheba and not Isaac who was living with Sarah far away in Canaan. This is subject to the presumption that Isaac was born by that time, as claimed by the Jews. Otherwise, we believe that Isaac was not even born by that time. Isaac was born after the event of sacrifice as we will show later on.

From the details of the event, it is evident that the son offered in sacrifice was left there by Abraham and was allowed to settle and reside beside the altar. This fact is further confirmed by the words uttered by Abraham on the occasion of the birth of Isaac:`Oh, that Ishmael might live before you.(ie remain in the service of Lord’s House)’, (Genesis 17:18). We have clarified earlier that the phrase, `before the Lord’ means `in the service of the house of the Lord’. The Holy Quran also verifies this statement:

“Abraham said: “Lord I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley near Your Sacred House, so that they may observe true worship.” (14:37)

Now who is referred to as the one `living near the Sacred House of God (Ka’aba)’? He is definitely Ismail, as both the Christians and Muslims agree that Isaac continued to reside in Canaan along with his mother. For himself, Abraham selected a place midway between the abodes of Isaac and Ismail so that he may see his sons frequently and at the same time remain close to the Holy Ka’aba. That is why when he died, both his sons were with him.

“And his sons Isaac and Ismail buried him.” (Genesis, 25:9)

Second Argument: Ismail was the only son of his father

We have observed earlier that Abraham had been desired by the God to sacrifice his only son (Genesis, Ch 22). Clearly, the only son was Ismail because he was fourteen years older than Isaac:

“Abram was eighty six years old when Hagar bore Ismail to Abram.” (Genesis, 16:16)

“Now Abram was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.” (Genesis 21:5)

It flows from these two verses that a) Ismail was Abraham’s only son till such time that Isaac was born, and b) he was this only son whom Abraham sacrificed even before Isaac was born because after that Ismail could no more be referred to as the only son.

Both these conclusions are sufficient evidence from the Old Testament that Abraham offered Ismail in sacrifice. Here it becomes so evident that it gets impossible to be denied. But the Jews and Christians have argued that Ismail had been sent away and Abraham was only left with Isaac, and in a way Isaac became the only son with Abraham at that time. Thus Genesis records him to be the only son, in a figurative sense only. This interpretation is not sustainable because:

  1. In fact, Isaac and not Ismail had been sent away. Ismail was actually living with his parents in Beersaba.
  2. The figurative interpretation of `the only son’ is very far-fetched. The phrase `only son’ is used for the son who does not share his parents’ love and affection with any other siblings.

Actually, it must have been `your first born son’ in Genesis Ch 22 which appears to have been changed over to `your only son’. The change must have been brought about with the motive to exclude Ismail but instead it went to prove that Ismail was sacrificed even before Isaac was born.

Third Argument: Ismail was his father’s beloved son

In Chapter 22, the son to be offered to God was referred to as `your only son whom you love’. This also goes to show that Ismail is meant here because the Old Testament on more than one occasion indicates that Abraham doted on Ismail. Abraham specially prayed to God for him:

“But Abram said: Lord God what will you give me seeing I go childless and the heir on my house is Eliezer of Damascus ?” Then Abram said: Look You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir! And behold the word of the Lord came to him saying: This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” (Genesis, 15:2-4)

That is why when he bore the son, he named him Ishmael which meant Lord has heard your affliction. It is quite imaginable that Ismail must be his father’s favourite and blue eyed son. Let us imagine an old man who has no offspring and feels dejected on this account, beseeches God for an offspring and when he is blessed with a son at an advanced age, names him Ismail which means God has heard the affliction. Then keeps him pressed to his bosom for thirteen long years. He is all he can pin his hopes on for his old age, and sees no chances for another child. In these circumstances, it can be well imagined how the father would dote on his only son!

Then again when Lord the God promises the birth of another son (Isaac) to Abraham, he utters words which further bring out his special feelings for Ismail. It appears that after the birth of Ismail he is so indebted to God that he is not harbouring any more desires.

“Then Abram fell on his knees and laughed, and said in his heart: shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child ? And Abraham said to God: Oh , that Ishmael might live before you!” (Genesis 17:17-18)

These feelings are pronounced by Abraham when God is breaking to him the good news of another son. The words, `might live before you’ betray a love that is difficult to fathom. The affection is welling in a fashion that it is difficult for him to conceal it even before God.

Another instance also illustrates Abraham’s love for Ismail. When Sarah wishes to cast out Ismail and his mother and intends to disinherit Ismail, Abraham finds it very displeasing:

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. Therefore, she said to Abraham: Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac. And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight becausof his son.” (Genesis 21:9-11)

Fourth Argument: The incident occurred at Marwah which is situated by the Ka`ba

We have read that when Abraham set out for the sacrifice: `On the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off’, (Genesis 22:4). The Jews deem this place to be the Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, while Christians consider it to be the place where Christ was crucified. But their own authorities maintain that this idea has no foundation. We quote their differences on this point from J. W. Colenso a biblical scholar. He has summarized the varied viewpoints and then summed up by recording his findings, thereby acknowledging the extent of changes introduced in the Scripture by human hands. He has pointed out that the place Muriah has been referred to in the Old Testament on four different occasions, and every time it is rendered differently in different versions by the Septuagint and Hebrew Bible.

Septuagint Hebrew Bible

Genesis 22:2 high land the land of Mureh

Genesis 12:6 high terebinth tree the plain of Mureh

Deuteronomy 11:30 beside the high terebinth beside the plain of Mureh

Judges 7:1 by the hill of Mureh by the hill of Mureh

Then even the various translations of the Septuagint do not agree. The Septuagint reads Genesis 22:2 as “high land” whereas Aquila puts it as “prominent land” and Symmachus as “The land of the Vision” 1. Moreover, as we shall see later, not only is it interpreted differently but is also transcribed in more than one renditions when it comes to writing it in Hebrew. J. W. Colenso has contested the claim that Moriah is the hill on which Solomon’s Temple now stands in Jerusalem on the strength of the following proofs:

1. The word Moriah has nowhere been used for the Temple. In the words of Colenso: `The word is not mentioned in any book of the Old Testament which in chronology is later than Solomon’s book.2 The hill on which Solomon erected the temple is always recalled as Zion in the books of the Prophets and Psalms. The word Moriah is never used for the Temple.’

2. The characteristics of Moriah do not agree with those of the site of Temple.

We find the second statement notably cogent. Colinso reasons that the Torah asserts that the place was conspicuous from a distance to which Abraham lifted his eyes, whereas there is no such place at the site of the Temple which suits this description. It is interesting to note that when Mount of the Temple is approached from the east through the Valley of the son of Hinnom, one has to look downhill to behold it, hence the pointlessness of `lifting the eyes’ in Genesis 22. Colinso has also drawn strength from an excerpt by Stanley:

“In the morning Abraham set out from the camp heading for the place indicated by the Lord. The Jews claim it was a place in Jerusalem on the Hill of Moriah, but I do not agree. The Christians insist it was located near the Church of the Holy Tomb. But this idea is even more flimsy. Muslims believe that it was a place in Mecca on Mount Arafat. This view sounds even more odd and baseless. It would be very plausible to look for this place on Mount Gerizim. Its topography also resembles that of an altar.”

It is out of ignorance that this author has ascribed to Muslims, the view of placing the scene of this historic sacrifice on Mount Arafat. To my knowledge no Muslim holds this opinion. As goes for Mount Gerizim, it is believed to be the site of the Altar in question, by the Samaritans, a Jewish sect, which proclaims a different Torah and has more affinity with the Christians than any other Jewish sect could have.

We have dilated on these views only to show that there are wide differences about determining the exact location of Moreh, the site of the Great Sacrifice. A section of biblical scholars has eliminated the name altogether, substituting it with “high terebinths” or “prominent land” or “the land of vision” in subsequent translations. Others have preserved the name but have corrupted the text by adopting the different pronunciations of Moreh, Muriah and Moriah. This is the same age old ruse of jumbling up fact and fiction which has been lamented by the Quran:

“O you People of the Scripture! Why do you confound truth with falsehood and knowingly conceal the Truth?” (3:71)

The correct word is undoubtedly Marwah (the famous hill near Ka’aba in Mecca) and not Moriah or Moreh. The word means shining smooth stone and is precedented frequently in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry.

Now the Hebrew word Moreh is derived either from Yara (fear or wonder) or Yarah (archery or moistening)3. Had the original word been Moreh, as the existing text suggests, the biblical translators would have preferred these meanings instead of “prominent land” or “land of vision”. The scribes of Pentateuch appear to have found it originally in the form Marwah but being the proper name of an unknown place situated far away in Arabia, it was difficult for them to translate it. Incidentally, there was a similar Hebrew word Marah which is derived from Ra’ah (Vision). The scribes mistook Marwah for Marah and in their effort to make the word meaningful to their predominantly Hebrew readers, translated it “Vision” and “Prominent”. When the translations became canonized with the passage of time, the original word was lost or confused and the Biblical scholars ended up with the word Moreh or Moriah.

In translations or versions where the name of the place has not been translated and the original name appears to have been preserved, the various extant forms of the word still suggest that it must have been Marwah.

The confusion was spawned by the fact that the classical Hebrew script had no indications of vowels. These were introduced later. In the absence of an oral tradition of transmission where people would commit the text to memory, the original accents and pronunciations could not be preserved. Consequently, the erroneous insertion of vowels sometimes completely changed the form of words and opened a floodgate of textual corruption. The word in question would have been originally written devoid of vowels but of course with a definite pronunciation. It suffered transformation later when vowels were added.4

Let us study this transformation in some detail. This transformation took three forms.

Original Form Changed Form Possible Pronunciation

Marwah Muryah Muriyyah

Mooriyah Mooriyaah

Mooreh Mooreh

The mechanism by which these changes came around needs to be considered. In the first case, the word Marwah was converted to Muryah. This is because the Arabic letter “w” is usually converted into Hebrew letter “y” (Yodh); for example Jol was turned into Jyl, Khoh into Khyh. This fact becomes more transparent when we find that in all roots which are common in Arabic and Hebrew, the Arabic “w” is changed to the Hebrew “y”, for instance we may note the change from Walo to Waly. It is still more evident when a root which is common in Arabic and Hebrew begins with “w”, such as the conversion of Arabic Walad to Hebrew Yalad, Ward to Yarad, Waqr to Yaqar and Wa’az to Ya’az. This shifting of syllables occurred either because of the convenience it offered in pronouncing the word, or because of the similarity in the way Hebrew alphabets “Waw” and “Yodh” are written.

The second change from Marwah to Moriyah occurred because they presumed that the letter “Mem” carried a vowel (sounding like Hebrew letter “Waw” or English letter O) and carried the presumption too far by replacing the vowel with letter “Waw”. This is not unusual in Hebrew and we have other examples such as the transformation of Y’tar to Yotar.

In the third case, the word Marwah (Arabic M’rwah) got converted into Morah (Hebrew Mwrah) when letters “Res” (English letter R) and “Waw” were allowed to exchange their places. Either it was in consonance with their habit of making like changes in Arabic words (such as their adoption of Jar’w as J’wr, Hafi as Yahaf, Alo as Ya’al, Kahal as Kalah) or because of the close resemblance between letters “Res” and “Waw” in Hebrew script. The latter probability is always there, particularly when the scribes deliberately intend to corrupt the text. There are many occasions when the Biblical scribhave actually thrived on this confusion because of similarity in written form of these letters. For instance they changed B’r’s into Bos.

It remains to be seen where this venue of the Great Sacrifice is actually located. The Jews consider it to be the place in Jerusalem where the Temple is situated. Christians place it at the Church of Holy Tomb. These claims have been sufficiently rebutted by their own intellectuals. As far as Stanley’s claim of identifying Moreh with Mount Gerizim is concerned, it is only based on conjecture. The mountain assumes the form of a table like plateau which strikingly resembles the shape of an altar. This led Stanley to believe that the altar referred to, in Genesis, must be Mount Gerizim. But unfortunately there are no compelling reasons to believe it. Also there is hardly anyone in the West who is for Stanley in his unique finding and scholars are hesitant to receive it.

We hold that this is exactly the same place in the Arabian Peninsula where the Children of Ismail have lived since earliest times and which has always been known as Marwah. The Book of Judges states:

“Then Jerubbaal (that is Gideon) and all the people who were with him rose early and encamped beside the well of Harod so that the camp of the Midianites was on the north side of them by the hill of Moreh in the valley.” (Judges, 7:1)

This illustrates that the Hill of Moreh was situated by the side of the Midianite camp and it is an established fact that by Midianites the Old Testament means the Arabs. The word is commonly used for the Arabs. Jewish scriptures are quite loud on it that Midianites were in fact the children of Ismail. George Sale, who has to his credit the first English version of the Holy Quran, states:

“Midian was one of the cities of Hijaz (Arabia). It was situated in the south east of Sinai on Red Sea. Doubtlessly, this is the same place which is referred to by Ptolemy as Modiana.”

The Old Testament further asserts:

“Then the men of Israel said to Gideon: Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.

But Gideon said to them: I will not rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you. Then Gideon said to them: I would like to make a request of you, that each of you would give me the ear-rings from his plunder. For they had golden ear-rings, because they were Ishmaelites.” (Judges 8:22-23)

“And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camel, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh on their way to carry them on to Egypt. So Judah said to his brothers: What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brothers listened. Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmailites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.” (Genesis, 37:25-28)

Thus Moreh was a place in the abode of Midianites and Midianites is only another name for Ismaelites, and Midian is a town situated in Arabia on the coast of Red Sea. We have also shown that Moreh is in fact the corrupted form of Marwah and there is no place in Palestine or Syria with the name of Moreh. The Jews introduced the name Moreh in their scriptures and tried to identify more than one spots with it, a contention which they could not get accepted even by their own authorities. This leaves the argument that Moreh is actually Mount Jerusalem, devoid of any strength.5

There are other reasons to believe that Marwah is actually a hill in Arabia, the land of Children of Ismail. In fact, it is one of the places with which the Arabs were quite familiar and it was the center of their religious rites on the occasion of Haj wherein it was mandatory to rally around it. That is why when the name Marwah is mentioned in the Quran, the details of its geographical location were deemed unnecessary. It has been indicated that it is one of the Signs of God and that the People of the Book tried to conceal it by textual interpolations although Allah had elaborately explained it. The detail of these statements of the Quran will appear in the second chapter.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sws), while watching the animals waiting to be sacrificed by Marwah, is reported to have pointed at Marwah and said: `This is The Altar and all roads to Mecca are altars.’ On another occasion, he is reported to have said that Mina is also an altar. Here we must note that the Prophet Peace be upon him declares Marwah to be “The Altar” (with a definite article), whereas the other places are referred to as “altars” (with indefinite article) which reduces them to the status of merely being one of the many altars.

The Holy Quran illustrates this fact from another angle. Referring to the animals brought for offering on Haj it observes:

“In the end, their place of offering is near the ancient house [The Ka’aba].” (22:33)

“… the offering brought to the Ka’aba.” (5:95)

This means that the animals brought for the offering should reach Ka’aba, because The Altar is situated near the “ancient house” which was raised in the beginning for this purpose.

“The first house (of worship) ever to be built was that at Bekka, a blessed place and a beacon for nations.” (3:96)

Now Marwah is situated beside Holy Ka’aba and it is The Altar. However with the passage of time as the followers of Islam spread through the world, the ambit of The Altar was also expanded around it. The Muslims and People of the Book concur that The Altar of Abraham was in the proximity of the Baitullah (House of Allah) which the Bible terms as Bethel (House of the Lord):

“Abraham passed through the land to the place of Shechem as far as Moreh and the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants I will give this land. And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the Mountain east of Bethel ( House of Lord) and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.”(Genesis, 12:6-8)

Other details of the incident as stated in the Old Testament, also conform to the surroundings of Marwah and do not agree with the location of Mount Jerusalem, which is called erroneously as Moreh, Moriyah or Muriyah by the Jews. A comparison of all statements shows that Abraham, in fact, came from the East, left both his slaves on a hill nearby, and zealously marched to Marwah with his only son, Ismail. And as indicated in Genesis 12:1-8, Abraham lived somewhere around Safa. On this occasion the Torah relates yet another version of Abraham’s journey to Moreh but the incident of the great sacrifice is not mentioned. (Gen 12:6)

These are the reasons which have given birth to the age old traditions and religious rites and customs among the Arabian tribe of Ismail which have survived to our times; and such traditional remnants are conspicuously absent in respect of Mount Jerusalem.

(To be Continued)

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The Binding of Isaac or Ishmael? (Part 2)

Tafsir Nizam Al Qur'an

This is the second part of a 4 part article from Qur’anic Exegesis ‘Nizam-ul-Qur’an’ (نظام القرآن), written by a gifted Qur’anic Scholar from Indian Sub-Continent Sheikh Hamiduddin Farahis ( 1863-1930 AD) aguing that prophet Ismail (pbuh) as was sacrificed.

(Adaptation to English from Arabic by  Nadir Aqeel Ansari)




Chapter 2

Admissions of the Torah and Judaeo-Christian Scholars

It would serve our purpose better if the following ten premises of our discussion on the concepts of revelation, inspiration, apocalypse and sacrifice are clearly understood.

(I) It is unlike the divine way to command any of His obedient servants in explicit terms to sacrifice his son. Of course, it can be shown in a dream which allows room for interpretation. If sacrificing one’s son is indicated in a dream, its most plausible interpretation would be to dedicate one’s son to God and to surrender him as an attendant of the house of the Lord. According to the rituals of the Jews’ synagogues, the attendants of the synagogues were considered akin to the animals marked for sacrifice. That is why they were subjected to similar rituals.

“So you shall bring the Levites before the Lord, and the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites; and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord like a wave offering from the children of Israel that they may perform the work of the Lord. Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the young bulls and you shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the Lord to make atonement for the Levites. And you shall stand the Levites before Aaron and his sons and then offer them like a wave offering to the Lord. Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. After that the Levites shall go in to service the tabernacles of meeting. So you shall cleanse them and offer them like a wave offering. For they are wholly given to me from among the children of Israel; I have taken them for myself instead of all who open the womb.” (Numbers 8:10-16)

It is thus sufficiently illustrated that the children of Aaron were earmarked for the service of the temple and whenever they were nominated for this duty, they were subjected to all the rites meant for sacrificial animals. The Torah abounds with evidence on this subject of which only one instance has been cited; more examples will be brought forth in due course.

(II) The secrets of the unknown are sometimes revealed by God through dreams. Sometimes these dreams are as clear and vivid as the morning sun and sometimes they are clad in allegories. Just like a speech which can either be categorical or it can be metaphorical, wanting elucidation. The second type of dreams needs interpretation and sometimes the interpretation is so farfetched that it even eludes the person who is blessed with it. According to the Holy Quran, the two prison mates of the Prophet Yusuf (sws) and the king of Egypt failed to interpret their dreams. The Torah mentions a number of dreams of the Prophet Daniel and king Nebuchadnazar, the meaning of which was unfolded to them after long.The prophets also face the same situation sometimes. Interpretation of dreams is a specialized knowledge which stems from a god gifted insight and prudence. Prophet Yusuf, in his statement “And my Lord has taught me something of the art of interpretation of dreams and events” (Yusuf 12:101), has hinted at this branch of knowledge.

(III) As explained above, a revelation can be a categorical and unequivocal message like the morning sun and sometimes it can also assume the form of a dream. But whatever form it may acquire, the person receiving it is always convinced about the truth of its contents and has faith in it. In order to realize that one possesses a special gift, its active or passive appearance is sufficient proof. After that no external evidence is required. For instance, we possess faculties of hearing, sight and comprehension. The strongest evidence for their presence is the fact that we can hear, see and understand; no further argument is necessary. Similarly, the person being blessed with revelation has faith in it and does not wait for the confirmation of its veracity. No doubt, it worries him at the beginning but this uneasiness is also remedied with the passage of time by its increased frequency. Thus revelation, whether it comes to the recipient when he is awake or asleep, is accompanied by belief and satisfaction. When we are awake, we are able to differentiate between a concrete reality and a fantasy without any difficulty; similarly, one can distinguish between an ordinary dream and a vision meant to reveal a message of God. This aspect of prophethood has been allowed to continue even after the termination of the series of prophets so that people who are perceptive and discerning may have a glimpse of the way Prophets were revealed upon, although there is a lot of difference between the two.

(IV) When it comes to sacrificing before the Lord or entrusting someone to the service of the temple, it has always been mandatory to present the first born baby, be it an animal or a child. It was followed so closely that in case of land, the first crop or the first plucking of the orchard was offered in the name of God. This was the divine law in the days of Adam and it was also enacted in the Torah.

“Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering.” (Genesis 4:4)

This was the divine command during the Adam’s days and the same law was revealed to Moses in the Torah.

“Because all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast: on the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified them to Myself. I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the children of Israel.” (Numbers 8:17-18)

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.” (Exodus 13:1-2)

(V) The sanctity of the firstborn is of a permanent nature which cannot be annulled. So much so that if the firstborn is from the wife whom her husband hates and the second is from a beloved wife, even then it is the firstborn that retains sanctity because: “he is the beginning of his strength; the right of firstborn is his.” (Deuteronomy 21:17)

(VI) One who is offered to God has no share in inheritance; God is his inheritance.

“At that time, the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name to this day. Therefore, Levi has no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 10:8-9)

“The priests, the Levites — all the tribe of Levi — shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and His portion. Therefore, they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 18:1-2)

(VII) It was necessary for the offering to be circumambulated around the altar seven times, and that razor should not have come down upon his head and his hair shall only be removed before the altar.(Numbers Chapter 6)

(VIII) For anything offered for God or anyone earmarked for His service, a special biblical phrase came to be used. It was: “before the Lord”, meaning that the person in question was in the service of the Lord or the synagogue.

“When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said to him: I am Almighty God: walk before Me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1)

“At that time, the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in his name to this day.” (Deuteronomy 10:8)

“And it (the robe) shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord.” (Exodus 28:35)

“Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” (Exodus 29:11)

“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord.” (Exodus 29:42)

“… from the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the Lord.” (Exodus 29:23)

“Then you shall take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration and wave it as a wave offering before the Lord.” (Exodus 29:26)

More instances of usage of this phrase can be seen in the Book of Leviticus. The biblical scholars agree with our interpretation of this phrase.

(IX) The offering had to be presented at the place chosen by the Lord for this purpose.

“Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offering in every place that you see; but in the place which the Lord chooses.” (Deuteronomy 12:13-14)

“God said to Abrahamm: Take now your son to the Land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2)

“You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which the Lord your God gives you; but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make his name abide.” (Deuteronomy 16:5-6)

(X) The Jewish law provided that special and important sacrifices had to be offered in special directions (Leviticus Chapters 1-8). For instance the sacrifice mentioned in Leviticus 6:17-25 and 7:1-6 was “most holy” and for it one had to face south and had to enter through the northern gate.

“He (Moses) put the table in the tabernacle of meeting on the north side of the tabernacle outside the veil; and he set the bread in order upon it before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He put the lamp stand in the tabernacle of meeting across from the table on the south side of the tabernacle; and he lit the lamps before the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He put the gold altar in the tabernacle of meeting in front of the veil; and he burned sweet incense on it as the Lord had commanded Moses. He hung up the screen at the door of the tabernacle. And he put the altar of burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting; and offered upon it the burnt offering and the grain offering, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Exodus 40:22-29)

A Christian scholar has written a book on the Synagogue titled “The Temple”. While giving the details of all Jewish religious rites and rituals, he has pointed out these aspects also. He has also tried to explain why the door of the tabernacle was located at the northern end. He writes, “We are not sure; may be because it was cold and dark in the North and may be because during their wanderings in Teyah their temple faced Palestine.” Thus it is clear that the door of the tabernacle was to the North whereas the lamp stand was to the South.

Pitfalls In Bible Study

It has been shown beyond doubt that the Jews have effected copious interpolations in their scriptures which stand distorted as a result. Many words have been deleted and others have been added. Just as it is difficult for a jury to sift the truth out of a pile of false evidence, similarly it is very difficult to ascertain the facts out of these scriptures. The scholars have widely complained of these impediments. The matter hardly needs treatment at length because certain evidences from the text itself are sufficient to reveal this fact. Look how Prophet Jeremiah laments over their fabrications:

“My heart within me is broken because of the prophets … For both prophet and priest are profane … I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem; they commit adultery and walk in lies … And the Lord says: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart. Not from the mouth of the Lord … In the later days you will understand it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” … Therefore behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words every one from his neighbour. I am against the prophets who use their tongues and say “He saith” … For you have perverted the words of the living God. (Jeremiah 23:9-36)

“How can you say: We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us”? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?” (Jeremiah 8:8-9)

Jesus has also hinted at the same people:

“All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers.” (John 10:8)

There has been some error in reporting or translating this verse. Jesus must have intended to discredit only those who came before Jesus but after the true prophets.

Whoever will examine the Jewish scriptures, will learn that they are conglomeration of reports from various sources and, like all such reports, suffer from inconsistencies. That is why books, which are revered as revealed and inspired scriptures by one sect, are entirely apocryphal for another. This is a known controversy and admitted by the Christian and Jew scholars. Therefore, these texts should not be relied upon; rather their study must be carried out critically and endeavours should be made to tell the truth from falsehood. In our opinion, the following principles of textual criticism must be kept in mind during Bible study to avoid grave errors:

i) Verses favouring Jews in the matters of contested disputes should not be relied upon.

ii) When a deliberate attempt is made to tamper with the text, the intruders succeed in deleting, expunging or corrupting some portions, but usually fail to blot out all related signs. Thus these signs should be sought for diligently and then the expunged facts should be reconstructed on the basis of these hints.

iii) A correct and genuine statement agrees with its context whereas a distorted verse does not. Therefore truth can be brought out by comparison of verses and reports, and collation of all details appearing on the subject.

iv) The modern archaeological and scientific findings regarding biblical age can also prove helpful in this quest.

The Great Sacrifice as reported by the Torah

Let us read the incident of the Great Sacrifice as reported by the Torah and then we will try to analyze it in the light of the principles of biblical textual criticism cited above.

The twenty second chapter of the Book of Genesis begins with the narration of this incident, which is in continuation of the previous chapter which speaks of the land where Abraham dwelt and from where he left with his son for the Great Sacrifice. Herein, it is mentioned that Abraham wandered in Beersaba. The king of the area approached him and made a covenant with him and then returned to Palestine. In the end, the name of Abraham’s dwelling has been hinted at, from where he left for the place of sacrifice. Now, we present the incident in the words of the Torah:

“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him: `Abraham !’ And he said: `Here I am’. Then he said: `Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men: `Stay here with the donkey, the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you’. So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said: `My father!’ And he said: `Here I am, my son.’ Then he said: `Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said: `My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’. So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from the heaven and said: `Abraham! Abraham!’ So he said: `Here I am.’ And he said, `Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day: `In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’ Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of the heaven and said: `By myself, I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son — blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed My voice’. So Abraham returned to his young men and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.” (Genesis 27:1-19)

References to this event are found elsewhere in the Bible also to which we will refer later on. For the time being, we may note the following in this passage of the Torah:

  1. Abraham dwelt in Beersheba before and after the sacrifice.
  2. The land of Moriah is three days journey from Beersheba.
  3. It is at Moriah where the Great Sacrifice was offered.
  4. Moriah could be seen from a distance.
  5. Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice.
  6. He was the son whom Abraham loved.
  7. There was a thicket by the altar.
  8. Abraham was blessed for not withholding his only son from God.
  9. All the nations of the world were also promised to be blessed through Abraham’s descendants.
  10. Abraham’s descendants shall possess the gates of their enemies.

Since the mind behind interpolations in the text was unaware of the fact that despite replacing Ismail’s name with that of Isaac, the context would reveal the truth through other details, therefore the other details were not touched. Now, we will show how these remnants of the original text can be pieced together to reconstruct the true picture.

 (To be Continued)

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The Binding of Isaac or Ishmael? (Part 1)

Tafsir Nizam Al Qur'an

This is the first part of a 4 part article from Qur’anic Exegesis ‘Nizam-ul-Qur’an’ (نظام القرآن), written by a gifted Qur’anic Scholar from Indian Sub-Continent Sheikh Hamiduddin Farahis ( 1863-1930 AD) aguing that prophet Ismail (pbuh) as was sacrificed.

(Adaptation to English from Arabic by  Nadir Aqeel Ansari)






This treatise is one of the prologues of my exegesis of the Qur’an, ‘Nizam-ul-Qur’an’, wherein I have tried to demonstrate as to which of his two sons—Ismail or Isaac—did Abraham offer to Allah as sacrifice. There are special reasons for setting down this treatise.
1. At first, I was motivated to write this tract by the extraordinary significance of this issue in Islam. This deserves elucidation: God, the Almighty, at first tested Abraham’s faith and when Abraham was not found wanting, he was blessed, chosen and appointed the patriarch (Imam) of the people. This has found mention in the Qur’an both explicitly and implicitly.

“And when his Lord tried Abraham by enjoining on him certain commandments and Abraham fulfilled them, He announced: I have appointed you Leader of mankind.” (2:124)

On another occasion, the Almighty has pointed out:

“We chose Abraham in this world, and in the world to come, he shall dwell among the righteous. When his lord asked him to submit, he answered: I have submitted to the Lord of the Universe.” (2:130)

That is to say that Abraham was chosen because of this submission to God and obedience to His commands. In other verses, the meaning of this submission to God and the nature of his trial have also been revealed ie, he was asked to sacrifice his son in the name of God.

“So when they [Abraham and his son] had both submitted to God and Abraham had laid his son prostrate on his forehead [for sacrifice]…” (37:103)

Later on, it has been made abundantly clear that the trial (ibtilaa‘) mentioned in 2:124 refers to this very test.

“This is indeed the manifest trial.” (37:106)

This is to say that the test referred to above established Abraham’s complete submission and surrendering of will to God, which is the real essence of absolute monotheism and devotion to faith.
Now, when we talk in terms of nations (Ummah) and religions (sharaai`), this submission (Islam) has been reserved by God for the Ummah of the Prophet (sws). No one else has been allowed any share in it because the Shariah (code) is granted only to those who can bear it. Only the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (sws), could bear the responsibility, and, therefore, it was entrusted to it. This is the reason why Abraham, while constructing the Ka’aba prayed to God to raise a people from the barren valley of Mecca which may uphold the Shariah that embodies true faith, and to send a prophet who may enable this Ummah to discharge this responsibility through teaching and training:

“And recall when Abraham and Ismail were raising the foundations of the House praying: O Lord, accept this [service] from us. You hear all and You know all. Lord! make us submissive to You, and out of our descendents raise a nation that will be submissive to You. And tell us the way to worship You and forgive us. Verily, You are forgiving and merciful. Lord! send forth to them a Prophet from among themselves who shall convey to them your message and instruct them in law and wisdom and purify them of sins. Verily you are exalted in might and truly wise.” ( 2:127-129 )

Abraham’s prayer was heard by God, and out of his progeny rose an Ummah capable of upholding the Shariah, marked by absolute submission to God sacrificing themselves for the sake of God. As a result, this Ummah is ever ready to offer itself in sacrifice for Allah in the footsteps of its forefathers, Abraham and Ismail. This is revealed in a prayer taught to the Prophet (sws):

“Say: Behold, my Sustainer has guided me onto a straight path through an ever true faith—the way of Abraham, who turned away from all that is false, and he was not one of those who ascribe divinity to others besides Him. Say: Behold my prayers, and [all] my acts of worship, and my life and my death are for God [alone], who is the Sustainer of all the universe, in whose divinity none has a share: for thus have I been bidden—and I shall always be foremost among those who surrender themselves unto Him.” (6:161-163)

Here `foremost among those who surrender’ denotes this particular meaning of Islam. Otherwise, the word “Islam” has been applied in its general connotation to all divine religions, but as a proper name it has been used for the following of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) only. This is because the adherents of this Ummah are at the pinnacle of absolute submission to God. As indicated above, they have committed their lives to God and, consequently, God Almighty has chosen them and charged them the responsibility to bear witness to the truth before mankind:

“And strive hard in God’s cause as you aught to strive [with sincerity and discipline]. It is he who has selected you [to carry his message] and he has laid no hardship on you in [matters of] religion, [and has chosen for you] the creed of your forefather, Abraham. It is he who has named you in bygone times: `Muslims’ and you have been named so in this [scripture also]—so that the Prophet might bear witness to the truth before you, and that you might bear witness to it before all mankind.” (22:78)

It is he who named you Muslims before this’ refers to Abraham’s prayer in which he has used the phrase Ummat-i-Muslimah. His words were: “And raise from my progeny an Ummat-i-Muslimah“. An Ummah was raised for this very purpose so that this blessing (the religion of Islam) may pervade throughout the world and the progeny of Abraham may become a source of blessing and bounty for the world. That is why when the Torah relates the instance of the sacrifice by Abraham, it points out:

“By myself I have sworn, says the Lord because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son. That in blessing I will bless you and multiplying I will multiply your descendents as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore… In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:15-18)

The last sentence means that the Muslim Ummah will proclaim pure faith and absolute monotheism in the world, and in this manner the blessings of God will permeate all the nations of the world. The same theme is reiterated in the Qur’anic verses quoted above, wherein it is ordained `Bear witness to the Truth before all mankind’ and `strive hard in God’s cause with sincerity and discipline, He has chosen you’. That is to say that God has selected it for the realization of this noble and lofty cause, and so it should concentrate its efforts and aspirations on it: the people of this Ummah have sacrificed their lives in the name of God; their life and death are for him. These traits have won for them the status of witnesses to the Truth before mankind and they have been appointed to lead them.
Now let us sum up our findings. Our discussion has revealed that this Zibh-i-Azeem (The Great Sacrifice) is the very faith which signifies the essence of Millat-i-Ibrahim. The Prophet (sws) was sent to elaborate and consummate it. God named this faith Islam and its devotees were designated as Muslims. A special Ummah was raised from amongst the progeny of Ismail, settled around the center of Abraham’s nation—the venerated Ka’aba of Mecca, to propagate it. All these signs have been beautifully summed up in the following verses:

“Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to true faith which Allah Himself has ordained, after which He modelled man’s innate qualities. There is no altering God’s creation. This is surely the true religion, although most men do not understand.” (30:30)

Now consider, how oblivious are they of the purport of the great mission of the Prophet (sws) and how ignorant are they of the significance of this momentous sacrifice in Islam, who reckon that this trial was held on the Mountain of Jerusalem and Isaac was sacrificed instead of Ismail !
2. The second consideration before me to write this book is the fact that there are a number of verses in the Holy Qur’an whose true sense cannot be understood and their placement in the coherence of the Qur’an cannot be accounted for, unless the subject of this Great Sacrifice is grasped in depth. A few illustrations of this premises above might have been found above and more will follow. Dealing with these matters under every relevant verse in my exegesis “Nizam-ul-Qur’an” would have resulted in unnecessary repetition and protraction. Therefore, I have attempted to resolve all the related difficulties in this book. It may be considered as the preface of my commentary of the Qur’an. I would keep on referring to this tract in my commentary as and when required.
3. The third factor which prompted this work is that the Jews have made more efforts to conceal the reality of this event than they have attempted in any other case. There is no limit to the textual distortions and lies introduced in the scriptures when it comes to Ismail and the Ka’aba. Some of these textual manipulations will be revealed in due course. Although this incident has been reported in the Torah, it has been enveloped in so many textual corruptions and interpolations that the facts stand completely distorted. The Qur’an has revealed the truth by removing the fog of human interventions. The Qur’an has adopted a unique strategy of discussion and reflection in this regard; the following two aspects of this approach are noteworthy:

  1. All Jewish scriptures are unanimous that God had categorically commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. But the Qur’an has given a different version: It states that Abraham saw in a vision that he was offering his son Ismail in sacrifice. This shows that the Qur’an is above any plagiarism from the corrupted scriptures of the Jews and Christians. In fact, the Qur’an introduces corrections in the Torah by reforming and improving the scriptures. It reveals the textual distortions introduced by the Jews.
  2. In the Torah (Genesis, Ch 22), where the incident of the Great sacrifice of Abraham has been reported, the Jews have placed the name of Isaac instead of Ismail’s in a very preposterous manner without any rhyme or reason. This is one of the ugliest and the most despicable examples of Jewish tampering with the holy scriptures. It was deemed inappropriate by the Qur’an to comment on interpolation of this sort due to a number of reasons and, therefore, it did not contradict them. A contradiction was not even required. Although the Jews had inserted the name of Isaac in place of Ismail in some verses but the other indications in the text were sufficient to expose this insertion. They managed to remove a few signposts of the path but could not altogether close it down. This tampering, being in tune with their desires, found wide acceptance among all the earlier and later generations of Jews and Christians and not a single dissenting voice survived. The general masses are not well versed in Holy scriptures and they find it easier to yield to the prevailing beliefs. The same happened in this case. The Jews proclaimed it in unision so vehemently and vociferously that all and sundry conceded chorus. This fervid propaganda also influenced some of the Muslim scholars, such as Ibni Jareer (may Allah bless him), who did not mind trusting Jewish scriptures and held them in high esteem. Ibni Jareer has admitted in his celebrated “History of the Nations and Kings” that while recording the history of a people he prefers to rely on their statements. In my view, this lapse on the part of these historians owes to their failure in estimating the real worth of the Jewish scriptures and in distinguishing the extant versions of the Torah from the original one. But only a few of the scholars had this misconception. Others who were proficient in the critical appreciation of the scriptures demonstrated from the Torah itself that it was Ismail who was offered by Abraham in sacrifice to Allah and not Isaac. However, due to these differences, the significance of this issue has receded into the background, or, one may say that it was the underestimation of the incident that led to these differences. Had they known what importance this event enjoys in our religion, they would have investigated the matter thoroughly and this event would not have fallen victim to their negligence.

These three factors motivated me to clarify this controversy for which this book was written. It consists of a prologue, three chapters and an epilogue.
In the first chapter, evidence has been drawn from the Torah and the statements and admissions of Judaeo-Christian scholars so that the Jews and Christians are left with no excuse.
The second chapter discusses the relevant Qur’anic arguments and sanctions.
In the third chapter, evidence has been presented from the traditions of the Prophet (sws), reports of the Companions of the Prophet (sws), citations from celebrated Muslim scholars, customs and history of the pre-Islamic Arabia.
Finally, these discussions have been summed up and reviewed in the epilogue.


(To be Continued)

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Elia dan Musa memiliki mukjizat yang sama dengan Krishna. Bila Elia membelah sungai Yordan dengan jubahnya yang dipukulkan ke permukaan air sungai tersebut (II Raja-raja 2:7-8), dan Musa membelah laut Merah dengan mengulurkan tangannya ke arah permukaan air laut tersebut (Keluaran 14:21-22), maka dalam kitab suci Mahabharata dikisahkan bahwa Krishna membelah sungai Yamuna dengan mengulurkan telapak kakinya di permukaan air tersebut demi menyelamatkan Arjuna dan Subadra.

Dalam kitab suci Mahabharata, khususnya bagian Svargarohanika Parva juga dikisahkan tentang Yudhisthira yang naik ke sorga dengan kereta. Svargarohanika Parva merupakan parva terakhir dari 18 parva kitab suci Mahabharata, yang terdiri dari enam bab dan 209 bait sloka, yang sangat kecil jika dibandingkan keseluruhan bait sloka kitab Mahabharata yang berjumlah lebih dari 100.000 sloka. Adapun masalah yang diceritakan dalam parva ini berkaitan dengan pengalaman Raja Yudhisthira dengan badan kasarnya naik ke sorga dengan menggunakan kereta yang terbuat dari api, milik dewa Indra.

“Indra menyuruh Yudhisthira naik ke atas kereta kendaraannya. Tetapi apa jawab Yidhisthira: “Semua saudara-saudara hamba telah gugur di sini. Tanpa mereka hamba tidak mau pergi ke sorga…. Sakra menjawab: “Nanda dapat menjumpai saudara-saudara Anda di alam sorga. Mereka sebenarnya telah sampai di sana terlebih dahulu. Mereka semua telah tiba di sana bersama-sama dengan Krishna. Jangan bersedih wahai raja wangsa Bharata. Setelah meninggalkan jasadnya masing-masing, mereka telah sampai di sorga. Tetapi Anda akan menuju ke sana dengan jasad yang lengkap seperti keadaan sekarang ini… Dengan menumpang kereta dewata, dalam sekejab Yudisthira sampai ke alam sorga”,

See I Wayan Maswinara. Svarga Rohanika Parva: Mahabharata (Surabaya: Paramita, 1999), pp. 10-19.

Dalam kitab suci TaNaKH – kitab suci agama Yahudi maupun Alkitab Kristen, khususnya ayat yang termaktub dalam II Raja-raja 2:9-11 juga dikisahkan narasi yang sejajar dengan kisah Yudhisthira.

“Dan sesudah mereka sampai di seberang, berkatalah Elia kepada Elisa: “Mintalah apa yang hendak kulakukan kepadamu, sebelum aku terangkat dari padamu.” Jawab Elisa: “Biarlah kiranya aku mendapat 2 bagian dari rohmu.” Berkatalah Elia: “Yang kauminta itu adalah sukar. Tetapi jika engkau dapat melihat aku terangkat dari padamu, akan terjadilah kepadamu seperti yang demikian, dan jika tidak, tidak akan terjadi.” Sedang mereka berjalan terus sambil berkata-kata, tiba-tiba datanglah kereta berapi dengan kuda berapi memisahkan keduanya, lalu naiklah Elia ke sorga dalam angin badai”, Alkitab (Jakarta: LAI, 2001), p. 401.

Fakta teks “kisah” tersebut di atas dapat dijadikan pijakan untuk membuktikan adanya kesejajaran ayat suci ketiga agama besar, sebagaimana yang termaktub dalam dokumen kitab suci agama Hindu, agama Yahudi dan agama Kristen. Salah satunya berkaitan dengan kisah Yudhistira dan Elijah, yang sama-sama tidak mengalami kematian, sama-sama terangkat ke sorga, sama-sama naik ke sorga dengan menggunakaan kereta, dan kereta keduanya sama-sama terbuat dari api. Jadi Yudisthira dan Elijah sama-sama naik ke sorga dengan kereta yang terbuat dari api; bukan naik kereta api.

Apakah kisah Yudhisthira dan Elia tersebut keduanya merupakan sejarah/ history yang kebenarannya dapat dikonfirmasi dengan bukti faktual arkeologis melalui kajian historis-kritis, atau keduanya hanya merupakan legenda yang kebenarannya hanya dapat dikorfirmasi melalui teks dokumen kitab suci, atau keduanya hanya merupakan mitos, sesuai dengan “his story” komunitas keagamaan yang telah meyakininya?

Berkaitan dengan iman yang bernalar, maka tidak mungkin seseorang menjustifikasi kisah Yudhisthira sebagaimana yang termaktub dalam kitab suci Mahabharata tersebut dianggap sebagai mitos (myth), sedangkan kisah Elia sebagaimana yang termaktub dalam kitab suci TaNaKH dan Bible (Alkitab) dianggap sebagai sejarah. Bukankah kitab Mahabharata, kitab TaNaKH dan kitab Bible ketiganya merupakan kitab suci 3 agama besar yang berpijak pada teks dokumen suci keagamaan? Cobalah jujur pada diri sendiri untuk menjawabnya.

Yg jelas dalam salah satu kamus bahasa Inggris tertulis demikian: “If you describe a belief or explantion as a myth, you mean that many people believe it but it is actually untrue.

Begitu juga Louis Ginzberg juga menyatakan: “the word ‘legend’ is derived from the Latin ‘legenda’ meaning

‘to be read’, the term originally applied to narratives of the Middle Ages such as lives of of the saints, which had ‘to be read’ as a religious duty”, see Louis Ginzberg. Legends of the Bible (New York: the Jewish Publications Society of America, 1956), p. xi

Bila Anda mengatakan bahwa kisah Yudhisthira yang naik ke sorga sebagai mitos, maka orang lain juga akan berkata kepada Anda bahwa kisah Elia yang naik ke sorga juga sebagai mitos.

Kisah Yudhisthira yang naik ke sorga dengan kereta berapi merupakan kisah keagamaan yang lebih tua dibanding kisah Elia yang juga naik ke sorga dengan kereta yang terbuat dari api. Kisah Yudhisthira yang naik ke sorga merupakan teks keagamaan bertradisi Arya. Teks keagamaan bertradisi Arya secara historis telah migrasi ke wilayah Persia dan Babilonia. Itulah sebabnya ditemukan inskripsi Boghazkoi berbahasa Akkadia yang justru memuat nama dewa-dewa Hindu bertradisi Arya, termasuk nama dewa Indra. Selain itu, ketokohan Yudhisthira yang naik ke sorga tanpa melalui proses kematian ternyata terkait juga dengan kereta yang terbuat dari api, milik dewa Indra, dan dewa Indra sendiri yang berperan sebagai kusirnya, sebagaimana kisahnya yang termaktub dalam kitab suci Mahabharata, khususnya parva terakhir yakni Svargarohanika Parva. Menariknya, peran penting figur dewa Indra ternyata namanya juga sudah tercantum dalam inskripsi Boghazkoi, yakni dengan sebutan “In-da-ra” yang ditulis dalam bahasa Akkadia, salah satu cabang bahasa Semit, see E.F. Weidner, (ed.). Keilschrifttexte aus Boghazkoi (Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1916).

Jadi, fakta adanya migrasi teks Arya ke wilayah Semit tersebut membuktikan adanya kontak budaya dan kontak bahasa antara tradisi Arya dengan tradisi Semit yang justru meniscayakan adanya perjumpaan teologis, yang juga meniscayakan pula terjadinya pengaruh teks Arya pada domain keagamaan di wilayah Babilonia. Dan dalam konteks ini, tatkala Yeremiyah mengalami pengasingan di wilayah Babilonia, maka muncullah kisah Elia dalam kitab Raja-raja. Siapakah sebenarnya penulis kitab Raja-raja? Havernick menyatakan bahwa Yeremiyah sendiri yang menulis kitab Raja-raja.

Havernick dengan mengutip teks Talmud, Baba Bathra fol. 15.1 beliau berkata: “Jeremias scripsit librum suum et librum Regum et Threnos (Jeremiyah sendiri yang menulis kitabnya, juga kitab Raja-raja, dan juga kitab Ratapan), see Keil and Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testaments, vol III. 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles (Massachusetts: Hendeickson Publishers, 2006), p. 9. Begitu juga sebagaimana teks sumber Judaism dalam teks Talmud Bavli, fourth order Neziqin, Baba Bathra 15a.2. disebutkan hal yang sama terkait siapa sebenarnya penulis teks kitab Raja-raja. Teks Talmud menyebutkan demikian: וירמיה כתב ספרו וספר מלכים וקינות (ve Yermiyahu katav sefero ve sefer Melachim ve Qinot), see Davidson and Rabbi Addin Steinsaltz. Noe Koren Talmud Bavli (Jerusalem: Koren Publishers).

Dengan demikian, dapat dipastikan bahwa kitab Raja-raja yang memuat kisah Elia yang naik ke sorga dengan kereta yang terbuat dari api merupakan kisah yang baru muncul belakangan yang ditulis oleh Yeremiyah di Babilonia, yang bisa jadi bersumber dari tradisi keagamaan Arya yang migrasi di wilayah Babilonia.

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Saadia Gaon qiblah.jpg

Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 24:62

וכאן אסחק קד גא פי מגיה מן אלביר אלתי ללחי אלנטאר והו מקים פי בלד אלקבלה.

Wa kana Ishaq qad ja’a fi maji’ihi min al-bi’r allati lil-Hay Al-Nadhir wa huwa muqim fi balad Al-Qiblah.

(“And Isaac came in the way of Be’er Lahai Roi and he dwelt in the country of Al-Qiblah”),

(See J. Derenbourg, Version Arabe du Pentateuque de R. Saadia Ben Iosef Al-Fayyoumi (Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 1893), p. 37.

Ibn Ezra’s commentary on Sefer Bereshit 16:14

באר לחי לאשר יהיה חי לשנה האחרת. כי בכל שנה היו חוגגים הישמעאלים אל הבאר הזות גם היום יקרא באר זמזם

Be’er Lachai la’asher yihyeh chay lash-shanah ha-acheret. Ki be chol shanah hayu Hoggim ha-Yishmaelim el ha-Be’er hazzot gam hayyom yiqqare Be’er Zamzam.

“Be’er Lachai means the well of him who will be alive next year. The well was so called because the Ishmaelites held the Hajj at this well. It is still in existence and is called the well of Zamzam”, see Asher Weiser, Ibn Ezra: Perushi ha-Torah le Rabbainu Avraham Ibn Ezra (Yerushalayim: Mossad Harav Kook, 1977), p. 151

Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 16:7

פוגדהא מלאך אללה עלי עין מא פי אלבריה עלי אלעין פי טריק חגר אלחיגאז

Fa wajadaha malak ALLAH ‘ala ‘ain ma’in fi al-bariyyah, ‘ala al-‘ain allati fi thariq Hajr Al-Hijaz.

(see J. Derenbourg, Version Arabe du Pentateuque de R. Saadia Ben Iosef Al-Fayyoumi. Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 1983), p. 24

Based on the rabbinical texts, Isaac came in the way of well of Zamzam (Ibn Ezra’s commentary, Sefer Bereshit 16:14; 24:62), he dwelt in the country of Al-Qiblah (Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 24:62), which Al-Qiblah was in the South, in Hajr Al-Hijaz (Saadia’s Targum, Sefer Bereshit 16:7).

Negev, according to Saadia’s is the Qiblah, to refer to the HOLY PLACE, not only a place (an sich). In Saadia’s Targum, Negev is not Jerusalem as the (future) Qiblah. But Negev is the (future) Qiblah itself which lies in the south of Judea.

According to Rabbi Samson Rapael Hirsch – Hebron, now the name of Hebron beforetime was Kiriath Arba also lies in Judea, not in Negev. According to him, Negev exactly means ערבה (Arabia). When Abraham lived in Mamre, district of Hebron (south of Jerusalem), Abraham then took a journey to the Negev, to the SOUTH, to the Qiblah. So, Abraham took a journey to the Qiblah in Arabia, not to the Qiblah in Judea. Obviously,
Isaac also took a journey to Be’er Lachai Roi, the Be’er Zamzam, a holy place in the South, a holy place of the Ishmaelites and Abraham dwelt. It is so clear.

Our topic here is about the meaning of THE QIBLAH correctly according to Saadia’s on the Sefer Bereshit 12:9. So, we have to compare the other traditional rabbinical sources, such as Ibnu Ezra, Rashi, Radak, Hirsch etc.

1. The Qiblah (Saadia Gaon).
2. The place of ADONAI (Rabbi Bachya ben Asher)
3. The Neqba – dry land, hot there (Ibn Ezra).
4. The South: the whole district from Jerusalem SOUTHWARDS which so called ערבה – ‘Araba, the wilderness territory (Hirsch).


The Qiblah lies in ערבה (Araba), in the wilderness, not on the mount in Judea. The Qiblah lies in the South of Jerusalem, not in Jerusalem itself as the Qiblah.

Pls read Rashi’s words carefully, לדרומה של ארץ ישראל והיא לצד ירושלים (li-drumah shel eretz Yisrael ve hiya letzad Yerushalayim (to the South of the land of Israel which is the direction of Jerusalem). The keyword of Rashi’s words here is the preposition לצד which implies that it is not Jerusalem itself but “adjacent” or “on the side of.” Therefore we can be certain that what Rav Saadia Gaon meant was Mecca as the Qiblah, as the SOUTH in Arabian peninsula (Al Hejaz). In the Chamisha Chumshe Torah: Bereshit. The Pentateuch: Translated & Explained. Genesis, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said:

“the South of Palestine was by no means the most flourishing part, the whole district from Jerusalem southwards is called in the book of Zacharia ערבה (‘Araba), meaning “Wilderness” (London: L. Honig & Sonss Ltd., 1963), p. 235.

The whole district from JERUSALEM SOUTHWARDS is called in the book of Zacharia ערכה (‘Araba), meaning WILDERNESS. What does it mean? THE SOUTH of Palestine is not JUDEA, but ערבה (‘ARABA) itself, and Jerusalem is not a part of ערבה (‘ARABA). Jerusalem as the (future) holy place is not a part of ערבה (Araba), and according to Rabbi Somson Raphael Hirsch it means that Jerusalem is not the Qiblah, Jerusalem is not a part of Araba, Jerusalem is not a part of the South, and Jerusalem is not a part of the Neqba. Hirsch’s commentary refers to the Genesis Rabbah 39:16 “And Abram journeyed, going on still toward THE SOUTH (xii,9): he drew a course and journeyed “TOWARD THE (FUTURE) SITE OF THE TEMPLE.” Which temple is it? Of course the temple site of the South, the temple site of Neqba, the temple site of ARABA. Now we understand that THE QIBLAH which was meant by Saadia’s must be the future temple site of Araba, not in Jerusalem.

So, what is the reason to think that Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary and Bereshit (Genesis) Rabba 39:16. contradict with Saadia’s Judeo-Arabic Targum?

Nothing at all.

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Qurban Yahudi itu bernama AQEDA YITZHAQ

Rav Saadia Gaon in his Judeo-Arabic Targum on the Chamisha Chumshe Torah, Sefer Bereshit 12:9

תם רחל אברם כל מא מר רחל אלי אלקבלה

Tsumma rachala Abram kulla ma marra rachala ila al-Qiblah

“And Abram journeyed, going and journeying towards the Qiblah.”

“Abram partit ensuite, allant et se deplacant vers le Qiblah.”

The readers may refer to the Sefer Bereshit Lech Lecha 12:9), R. Saadia Ben Iosef Al-Fayyoumi. Volume premier. Version arabe du pentateque (Paris: Ernest

In the Chamisha Chumshe Torah: Bereshit. The Pentateuch: Translated & Explained. Genesis, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch also said:

“the South of Palestine was by no means the most flourishing part, the whole district from Jerusalem southwards is called in the book of Zacharia ערבה (‘Araba), meaning “Wilderness” (London: L. Honig & Sonss Ltd., 1963), p. 235.

The whole district from JERUSALEM SOUTHWARDS is called in the book of Zacharia ערכה (‘Araba), meaning WILDERNESS. What does it mean? THE SOUTH of Palestine is not JUDEA, but ערבה (‘ARABA) itself, and Jerusalem is not a part of ערבה (‘ARABA). Jerusalem as the (future) holy place is not a part of ערבה (Araba), and according to Rabbi Somson Raphael Hirsch it means that Jerusalem is not the South, Jerusalem is not the Neqba, Jerusalem is not the Qiblah. Obviously, Jerusalem is not a part of Araba.

Jerusalem is not a part of the South, and Jerusalem is not a part of the Neqba. Hirsch’s commentary refers to the Genesis 12:9 which the verse also refers to the Genesis Rabbah 39:16

“And Abram journeyed, going on still toward THE SOUTH (xii,9): he drew a course and journeyed “TOWARD THE (FUTURE) SITE OF THE TEMPLE.”

Which temple is it? Of course the temple site of the South, the temple site of Neqba, the temple site of ARABA. Now we understand that THE QIBLAH which was meant by Saadia’s must be the future temple site of Araba, not in Jerusalem.

So, what is the reason to think that Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary and Bereshit (Genesis) Rabba 39:16 contradict Saadia’s Judeo-Arabic Targum?

Nothing at all

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واذ ابتلى ابرهم ربه بكلمت فاتمهن قال اني جاعلك للناس اماما

(البقرة 2:124).

God said: “And remember that Abraham was tried Lord with certain commands which he fulfilled them. He said: I will make thee a Leader to the nations.” (al-Baqarah 2:124)

The Quran states that Abraham was subjected to various tests, and the great test was the binding of his son, Ishmael as the sacrifice of Abraham which so called the Qurban, see al-Shaffat 37:100-102. However, this verse must be presumed that what is meant here is simply Abraham’s complete submission to whatever commandments he received from God. Thus, in everything Abraham fulfilled God’s tests, and Ishmael as the sacrifice of Abraham was the gretest. After doing the binding of Ishmael and Abraham fulfilled it, he was promised the leadership of the world.

The Hebrew Quran states:

כאשר ריבונו של אברהם ניסה אותו בכמה מצוות שעמד בהן. אמר ריבונו הנני ממנה אותך אימאם לאנשים.

kaasher ribono shel av’raham nisah oto b’khamah mitz’vot sheamad bahen. amar ribono hin’niy m’maneh ot’kha ymm laanashiym.

The Hebrew word ניסה (nisah) in this Hebrew Quran is to represent the “tests” of the commands, mitzvot (מצוות).

The Mishnah (Torah she be’al phe), Pirke Avot 5:3 also stated that Abraham was subjected to the עשר ניסה (ashar nisah), meaning “ten tests”, but the sages differ as to which of his life experiences were tests. All sages agree that the call to leave his homeland (see Sefer Bereshit 12:1), and the binding of Isaac described in this Pirke Avot 5:3 are included. Sefer Bereshit 22:2 also states:

וימר קח נא את בויך את יחידך אשר אהבת את יצחק ולך לך ארצ המריה

vay-yomer qach-na et bincha et yechidecha asher achavta et Yitzhaq ve lech lecha el eretz ha-Moriyah.

“And he said, “Take now your son, your only one whom you lovest, Isaac, and go into the land of Moriah (Genesis 22:2)

Based on the Torah, Isaac as the Qurban of Abraham is a specific trial of Abraham than other previous ones.

According to the Quran, after Abraham was tried to sacrifice Ishmael as the great test (al-Baqarah 2:124) God then promised Abraham as the Leader of all nations, so that why God ordered Abraham himself to build the sacred refuge of the Ka’bah, the holy Temple with Ishmael as the sacred site, the qiblah for all nations (see al-Baqarah 2:127). Rav Saadia Gaon also confirmed the existence of the ruins of this sacred site, before Abraham was appointed by God to build the refuge of the Ka’bah. In the Judeo-Arabic Targum of Chamisha Chumshe Torah, Saadia Gaon translated the Sefer Bereshit 12:9 as follows

תם רחל אברם כל מא מר רחל אלי אלקבלה

Tsumma rachala Abram kulla ma marra rachala ila al-Qiblah

“And Abram journeyed, going and journeying towards the Qiblah.”

“Abram partit ensuite, allant et se deplacant vers le Qiblah.”

The readers may refer to the Sefer Bereshit Lech Lecha 12:9), R. Saadia Ben Iosef Al-Fayyoumi. Volume premier. Version arabe du pentateque (Paris: Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 1893), p. 19.

Ishmael was 13 years old (Sefer Bereshit 17:25), and the Sefer Bereshit 18:6-7 also confirms: “So Abraham hastened to the tent to Sarah and said, “Hurry! Three seah’s of unsifted flour, sifted flour! Knead and make cakes!” The Abram ran to the cattle, took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the youth who hurried to prepare it. Amazingly, Rashi also explained the Hebrew phrase אל הנער (el han-Na’ar), lit. “au jeune homme. C’est Ismael, afin de l’initier a l’accomplissement des Mitsvot. “Chamisha Chumshe Torah. Le pentateuch avec commentaires de Rachi et notes explicatives (Paris: Fondation Samuel et Odette Levy, 1979), p. 103.

Mikraot Gedolot: Bereshit. Volume One. A New English Translation by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg on the Sefer Bereshit 18:7, he said:

“to the Youth – this was Ishmael, to train him to perform mitzvoth (Rashi from Aboth d’Rabbi Nathan, chapter 13).

Derech Tov explains that the definite article means the Youth mentioned above who was ISHMAEL. Now why did Abraham give the calves to Ishmael? The Answer is that he wished to train Ishmael in the performance of mitzvoth.” (New York: the Judaica Press, 1993), p. 211a.

Rashi himself also explains that the definite article “the” is expressed by prefixing a “hay” to the noun. This is called הי הידיעה (hay-hayedi’a), see , Sampson A. Isseroff. An Introduction to Rashi’s Grammatical Explanations in the Book of Genesis. Sha’ar le Diqduqei Rashi. Sefer Bereshit (the Torah Education Department of the World Zionist Organization, 1985), p. 9.

In addition, it is important to note that according to the Midrash, הנער (han-Na’ar) is to be explained as ISHMAEL. The language clearly defines this Hebrew word not as any ordinary “young boy” or “lad” because it uses the Hebrew letter ה (hay) to designate the special “young boy.” The letter ה (hay) added emphasis to the importance and greatness of this “young boy”, even, his position for Abraham, so that why Rashi confirms that this young boy is ISHMAEL.

The Hebrew word הנער (han-Na’ar) means “the young man”, however, is to refer to Ishmael whom he bade to do this in order to train him to the performance of the religious duties, the Mitzvoth. Ishmael was 13 years old, according to the Mosaic Law, the age of Bar Mitzvah. But how to do this? How to slaughter the calf according to the Mitzvoth for the Bar Mitzvah (the son of the Mitzvoth? Is it a must to slaughter animal with the existence of the Qiblah? Yes, it is right. Sulchan Aruch explained it, about the important thing of the Qiblah when the one wants to slaughter the animal according to the Mitzvoth. But the Temple of Jerusalem did not exist in that moment. Did Ishmael slaughter the calf directed to the Temple of Jerusalem? Of course not. Amazingly, according to the Quran, Abraham and Ishmael already built the Temple of Mecca with his son, Ishmael. Ka’bah is the Qiblah, the direction to which Ishmael and Ishmaelites turn in prayer. Therefore, the Quran confirms that the first, Abraham took Ishmael as the Qurban, and the second, Abraham then built the Temple of Mecca with Ishmael (al-Baqarah 2:124-127).

Obviously, the Qiblah אלקבלה (al-Qiblah) that was really meant by Rav Saadia Gaon is the direction of Mecca, to the Ka’bah, not to the direction of Jerusalem, to the mount of Moriah as Rashi’s commentary. If we received Rashi’s commentary, there are many problems. Did Ishmael slaughter the animal to the direction of Jerusalem, to mount Moriah as the Qiblah? Did Ishmael slaughter the animal to the direction of Mecca, the Kaaba as the Qiblah? Where did Ishmael do to slaughter the animal? The Torah said that Abraham and Ishmael lived in Mamre (Sefer Bereshit 18:1-7). Firstly, Jerusalem however is not the south of Mamre. Secondly, Abraham never knew the holy place which God had told him, mount Moriah as the Qiblah. It seems Ishmael slaughtered the animal in the direction of Ka’bah. There was no holy Temple or direction prayer in Jerusalem at that time. Mostly likely the direction was towards the Ka’bah. Thus, Abraham never knew the mount Moriah as the Qiblah before God ordered him to slaughter his son, Isaac. Therefore, Rav Saadia Gaon mentioned the Qiblah, the southward is to refer to the direction of Mecca. Amazingly, Rav Saadia Gaon also confirmed the existence of Mecca in Sefer Bereshit 10:30.

1. Sefer Bereshit (Genesis) 18:1 “ And the Eternal appeared unto him in the oaks of Mamre …. “

2. Sefer Bereshit (Genesis) 18:6 “And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah and said, Hasten three seahs of fine meal, knead it, and make hearthcakes.”

3. Sefer Bereshit (Genesis) 18:7 “And Abraham ran unto the herd and took a calf tender and good, and gave it unto THE LAD or THE YOUTH (Ishmael) and HE (Ishmael) hasted to dress it”.

Based on these verses, Abraham and his son, Ishmael lived in Mamre. Where is the territory of Mamre? Mamre is a place in the Hebron district, WEST of Machpelah and SOUTH of Jerusalem. It indicates that Jerusalem is not a direction of prayer at that time before the binding of Isaac as the Qurban. Jerusalem, NORTH of Mamre, and Ishmael clearly slaughtered the animal to the direction of the SOUTH of Mamre as the Qiblah according to Rav Saadia Gaon, that is in Mecca, not to Jerusalem. Ka’bah is a Qiblah in Mecca, south of Mamre. Obviously, based on the Sefer Bereshit (Genesisi) 12:9 Abraham lived in Mamre, he then journeyed, going and journeying towards the Qiblah, the South. What does it mean? Abraham already knew הנגבה (han-Neqba), was literally refer to the South, as the direction of the Qiblah, the South of Mamre. Jerusalem lies North of Mamre; and Mecca lies South of Mamre. Thus Abraham traveled South, not North.

Interestingly, based on the verse of the Sefer Bereshit 12:9, Rabbi Bachya ben Asher in his Midrash ‘al Chamisha Chumshe Torah: Bereshit, he said:

וכל המסעות האלו כדי להשיג השגת נבואתו של אל שדי הוא כנוי של אל”ף דל”ד שכולל אותו הנגבה. ועל כן יזכירנו תמיד בדבריו

Ve chol ham-massa’ot ha-ellu kedei le-hassiq has-sagat nevuato shel El-Shaddai, Hu kinnui shel alef-daled (65) shekolel oto han-Neqba. Ve ‘al ken yazkirenu tamid Midbaraiv.

“All of these journeys had as their purpose that he should qualify for the gift of prophecy on the level of communication with the attribute of God known as שדי (Shadai). This is an attribute of the אדני (ADONAI) level of God. It is alluded to in the word הנגבה, meaning “Southward”, whose numerical value 65 equal to the name אדני (ADONAI), see Rabbeinu Bachya ben Asher (Yerushlayim: Mossad Harav Kook, 1977), 53.

However, this is the Torah’s hidden message in the light of gematria (number patterns) according to Rabbi Bachya ben Asher on the meaning of the South – the holy place of ADONAI, or the Qiblah in the Saadia’s commentary. Amazingly, Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher and Rav Saadia Gaon exactly explained that the South has a link with the Qiblah and ADONAI (Hashem).

Ibn Ezra in his Perushi ‘al ha-Torah le Rabbenu Avraham ben Ezra on the Sefer Bereshit (Genesis) 12:9 he also describes:

הנקבה: פאת דרום. ונקרא כן בלשון ארמית נגיבו מיא כי צד דרום חן. ומרוב החום ייבש. וכן טעם כי ארץ הנגב נתתני

han-Neqba. Peat darom ve niqrea ken be leson Aramit Negivu-mayya ki tzat darom chen, u merov hachom yibash, ve ken tha’am ki eretz han-Negev netattani (יהושע טו, יט)

Toward the South. Negev means South and it means the same in Aramaic. Negev in Aramaic means dry as we see from Onqelos who renders the waters were dried up (Genesis 8:13) as Negivu-mayya. The South is called Negev (dry) because it is hot there, and the heat parches the land. This is the way for that thou hast set me in the Southlands, eretz ha-negev give me therefore springs of water (Joshua 15:19), see Ibn Ezra (Yerushlayim: Mossad Harav Kook, 1977), p. 52.

Furthermore, in the Chamisha Chumshe Torah: Bereshit. The Pentateuch: Translated & Explained. Genesis, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said: “the South of Palestine was by no means the most flourishing part, the whole district from Jerusalem southwards is called in the book of Zacharia ערבה (‘Araba), meaning “Wilderness” (London: L. Honig & Sonss Ltd., 1963), p. 235. Hirsch’s commentary also agree that the South is another name of ARABIA, the territory of the Wilderness, במדבר (Bemidbar). And Ibn Ezra confirms it, that eretz ha-negev means “a dry land.” So, it is a clear that Ishmaelites are B’nei Bamidbar (the sons of the Wilderness), who lived in a dry land in Arabia.

Meanwhile, according to the Torah and Pirke de Rav Eliezer, Abraham took Isaac as the Qurban with the first born-son of Abraham himself, he was Ishmael. Rashi also confirms this. Ibn Ezra also states that Isaac was 13 years old, the age of Bar Mitzvah when he was sacrificed by Abraham. “It thus appears logical to assume that Isaac was close to 13 years old.” Based on this verse, Abraham took Isaac as the Qurban with Ishmael in the land of Moriah. And Rashi explained that the land of Moriah is to refer to Jerusalem. He said: “This is Jerusalem”, and so we find 2 Chron. 3:1 “to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem Mount Moriah. Our rabbis have explained that it is called Moriah – Instruction – because from it ( i.e. from the Temple built on that mountain) instruction (huraah) הוראה came forth to Israel (Bereshit Rabba 55). The Torah depicts how Abraham really did the trial command to sacrifice his son, the binding of Isaac before the sacred place was then built by King Salomon as the Temple of Jerusalem. The Temple was not built by Abraham himself.

However, both Quran and the Torah agree in the grand narrative of the great trial of Abraham, the Qurban. After the Qurban, God prepared to establish His holy Temple. Thus, the grand narrative of both holy Temples through the Qurban are similar, but not exactly the same.



1. Rav Saadia Gaon confirms the real name of מכה (Makkah) in his Targum, Sefer Bereshit 10:30.

2. Rav Saadia Gaon confirms Al-Qiblah אלקבלה (the South) in his Targum, Sefer Bereshit 12:9.

3. The Torah confirms Abraham and Ishmael lived in Mamre, Sefer Bereshit 18:1 and Mamre, the South of Jerusalem.

4. Rashi confirms that Ishmael slaughtered the animal, see Perush Rashi ‘al ha-Torah, Sefer Bereshit 18:7

5. Ibn Ezra confirms באר לחי (be’er Lahai) as באר זמזם (be’er Zamzam), see Perush Ibn Ezra, Sefer Bereshit 16:14

6. Rav Saadia Gaon in his Targum also confirms the name of Hajr Al-Hijaz, Sefer Bereshit 14:7.

7. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher also confirms the name of Zamzam in his Perush Bachya al ha-Torah as well as Ibn Ezra. (Sefer Bereshit 16:14). Rav Saadia Gaon confirms this holy place in חגר אלחגאז (Hajr Al-Hijaz), אלקבלה (Al-Qiblah) and מכה (Makkah).

8. Radak also confirms the name of Mecca as well as Rav Saadia Gaon’s, see Sefer Bereshit 10:30.

Rav Saadia Gaon dan Ibn Ezra confirmed the existence of the Qiblah, the South of Mamre, so that why Rav Saadia Gaon and Ibn Ezra mentioned the name of Hajr Al-Hijaz, the name of Zamzam, the name of Mecca, all are refer to the South, the Qiblah as Rav Saadia Gaon said. These prove that the Qiblah according to Rav Saadia Gaon is to refer to the South of Mamre, that is Mecca, not Jerusalem. It proves clearly accoding to Rav Saadia Gaon.

Critical Notes

According to traditional Jewish understanding such as Ibn Ezra and Radak, the book of Zechariah 13:7 refers directly to the suffering Messiah. The only possible interpretation for this scripture relates to the suffering Messiah, as Ibn Ezra suggested, who will die, as the scripture clearly states by crucifixion, see Itzhak Sapira, The Return of the Kosher Pig: the Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought (Maryland: Lederer Books – Messianic Jewish Publishers, 2013), 128. Do you think that Ibn Ezra and Radak have been influenced by theological power of Christian term when he explained that the verse referred to the suffering Messiah? Do you also think that the use of באר זמזם (be’er Zamzam) is the influence of Islamic term when Ibn Ezra explained the verse in the Sefer Bereshit 16:14? Maybe you will say “case by case.”

Rabbi Saadia Gaon also connecting Daniel 7:13 to Zechariah 9:9 declares: “As a sign of humality, the Messiah will come riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He will however be accompanied by the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13), i.e. the angels of heavens, see Itzhak Sapira, The Return of the Kosher Pig: the Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought (Maryland: Lederer Books – Messianic Jewish Publishers, 2013), p. 200. Do you also think that Rav Saadia Gaon was influenced by Christian theology on the coming of Christian Messiah based on the New Testament? Maybe you will say “case by case too.” The Islamic terms in Ibn Ezra’s works are the influence of Islam, but the Christian terms and its theology in Ibn Ezra’s works are not the influence of Christianity. Indeed, you really did a selected judgement to make a critical episteme to the rabbinic texts.

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Interfaith Seminar: The End of Time and Common Ground between Brahmanic and Abrahamic Faiths on the Mahdawiyyat/ the Messianism (Mahdism)

Sabtu, 18 Agustus 2018 jam 07.30 – 10.30 baru saja berlangsung acara seminar Lintas Agama bertajuk “The End of Time and Common Ground between Brahmanic and Abrahamic Faiths on the Mahdawiyyat/ the Saviour.”

Bersama saya, KH. Abdul Aziz – Pengasuh Pondok Pesantren Al-Wafa, juga Syech Abdur Razzaq Ebrahim, dari Cape Town – South Africa.
Peserta juga dihadiri dari berbagai elemen keagamaan dan kebangsaan, di antaranya Aparat Kepolisian Kabupaten Jember, para Romo dari Kristen Katolik, para Pendeta dari Kristen Protestan, Panditha Nengah dari Parisada Hindu Dharma Kabupaten Jember, para ulama Muslim dari berbagai ormas, FKUB (Forum Komunikasi Umat Beragama) Kabupaten Jember dan Aliran Kepercayaan serta kaum Nasionalis. Mudah-mudahan acara ini bisa menyatukan kita dalam perbedaan dan keragaman demi keindonesiaan kita.

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