Summary: From Medina to Mecca, transitions in Muhammad's thinking. More strange "Bible" stories. Muhammad's concept of who God is and what He does.
Lesson 23, No Questions Allowed.
Sura 5, called "The Table"
As we move on, please take note here that so far, except for those few verses of Sura 1, everything you have heard, up to and including today's portion, was composed in Medina, and therefore, for the most part, has not been abrogated. That is, these things are still in effect for Muslims of our day.
Chapter 5 opens with rules and regulations, some of which seem to be from Arab paganism, and others copied directly from the law of Moses, e.g., that which dies of itself, blood, pork, meat sacrificed to idols, etc, all are forbidden to the good Muslim.
Repeated is the notion that Muhammad has come to clear up what the Jews and Christians had perverted and were hiding.
Re-enforced is the worst of the heresies, verse 17: "Infidels indeed are those who said 'Surely Allah is the Christ, son of Mary.'" He is so bold here as to add that if he, Allah, wants to destroy the Christ along with his mother, and in fact everyone on the planet, that is his business since "he creates what he wills."
Muhammad has trouble understanding why those who say they are sons of God, namely Jews and Christians, are punished for their sins. But in the next breath he says that Allah forgives whom he wills and "torments" whom he wills.
We would add that the true God "wills" to punish His own children to perfect them and bring them to glory. He "wills" to forgive all who ask Him for that forgiveness. In other words, the true God of Heaven is not capricious and disconnected from his creation to the point where He does not feel or care. It is this "distance" of Allah that literally sets him apart from Jehovah.
A couple of Bible stories follow. The first, about the 12 spies, their report, and Israel's 40 year punishment, is relatively in order. The next is not. It begins with two sons of Adam, unnamed here, and how one murdered the other. Then comes a raven to the murderer to show him how to bury the murdered. This tale is thought to have originated from an ancient Jewish legend.
He goes on to say that if you kill one person, you have killed an entire people. If you preserve one person, you have preserved all. Again ancient Jewish sources are used, but Muhammad has Allah saying that this doctrine is "inscribed" by the approved messengers and is to be believed.
Though Jesus also goes from lesser to greater in His explanations of sin, the way this is stated seems a bit over the top. Jesus says that lust in the heart equals adultery, and hate in the heart equals murder. But He never seems to place universal guilt on a soul for one sin committed. He seems to be as concerned for the one victim as He is for the group, and for the sin as it stands as opposed to any implications beyond the obvious.
To men and women caught in and accused of sin, our God simply says, "Go. And sin no more." With Allah the guilt is overwhelming, crushing.
Those readers who may have heard that in Islam a thief is to have his hands removed will find proof of that in verse 38. "And the male thief and the female thief, so cut off their hands..."