Friday, January 18, 2008

Why do Muslims love Moses?

Nice article from beliefnet's 'A MidWestern Muslim' blog on why Muslims love Moses.

''Another year brings another season of Passover, during which Jews commemorate the bitterness of Egyptian bondage, the grace of having death pass over them on its way to claim each Egyptian first born, and the elation of freedom from bondage at the hands of God's mighty Messenger. [...]
Many may not know this, but Muslims also commemorate the Exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt by fasting the ninth and 10th day of the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The event is called Ashura, stemming from the Arabic word for "ten."

While this may be surprising to non-Muslims, it's important to understand that Moses figures prominently in Muslim belief. The Exodus story is a happy one for Muslims; it is a tale of bitter bondage and hardship and the glory of God's deliverance from that hardship. The Qur'an speaks a great deal about Moses and his dealing with Pharaoh. In fact, about 73 passages--many encompassing several verses at a time--deal with Moses. More verses mention Moses by name than Muhammad (peace be upon them both).

The Qur'an tells of two miracles--Moses' staff turning into a serpent and his hand glowing when he places it under his arm--that God permitted as proof of Moses' prophethood. It details the plagues that were unleashed on the Egyptians for their refusal to believe in God and set the Hebrews free: "We (God) then sent upon them the flood, and locusts, and lice, and frogs, and blood as manifest signs; [as a result] they became arrogant and were a people steeped in crime" (7:133).
The Qur'an then speaks about a great affliction that befell the Egyptians and led them to finally let the Hebrews go. The text does not go into what sort of affliction it was; perhaps it was the death of every Egyptian first born, but this is speculation. My favorite part of the story, the splitting of the Red Sea, is mentioned at least twice in the Qur'an as well.
Thus, I am happy to fast on Ashura to commemorate this event.

The two (communities) have much in common. Both espouse a staunch monotheism. A great number of Hebrew prophets, whom Muslims love dearly, are mentioned in the Qur'an and highly honored. Muslims and Jews both trace their faith origin to Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). These commonalities far outweigh and outnumber any differences there may be, and they should serve to bring both communities closer together.

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