Hachrazah 5769 Kislev 15b
Informal notes in preparation for live broadcast:
- These are Benyamin Abrahamson's informal notes in preparation for the live broadcast. Due to time constraints and the length of time required for translation, not all of it could be aired, but it may prove interesting reading to those interested.
My name is Benyamin Abrahamson, and I am an orthodox Chassidic Jew from Israel who works as an historian, a consultant, to an important Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem.
Most of the people here know me from my endless discussions about the similarities between Islamic and Jewish customs. I enjoy talking about the Haddith, Tabari, Ibn Hisham and Al-Waqidi, and the kings of Himyar, as I much as I enjoy discussing the Midrash Rabbah, the Midrashei Geulah, Rambam, Tosefos or the Shulchan Aruch.
I love to talk about common prayer customs, architecture and calendars.
But it is clear to me that there is more to this than just similarities, they obviously go back to a common root, a common faith.
In our literature we are taught that there is common faith, a fundamental "religion" which all men are born into. There is a basic faith that is obligated on all mankind. Jews have called this yireh shomaym, ger toshav or bnei noah in Hebrew, theosebeia in greek, and according to school of Rabbi Benamozegh, this fundamental "religion" is also called by the name Islam.
In the Holy Torah, everywhere the word "Kenite" used, it is translated to Aramaic, it is called Salamai, or Muslamai. Some suggest this refers to the great numbers of non-Jewish believers who came to sacrifice the Qurban Shlamim in Jerusalem together with the Jews. Salamai, Musalamai, Muslims. This could be a clear indication in our literature that Islam is an ancient religion, dating back to second temple times, at least. And if Islam's roots are the same as what we call bnei noah, then it is much older, it is the religion of Noah, and Adam himself.
The closeness of Islam and Judaism was always understood by Biblical Scholars up until recent years. The close relationship between Jews, the ten lost tribes, the Arabs and Rachabites was all assumed. With the advent of German revisionists, Wellhausen and Büchler, and others, this all changed. They introduced ideas that Islam started with Moon or rock worship, or a falling asteroid. Devout Jews know that this is not true.
It is a fact of Jewish Law that we believe that Muslims are perfect monotheists. They worship the same God that we do.
But this is not what I would like to talk about.
I did not always know about Islam.
When I lived in New England, I was the technical manager of a large department. I hired many people. One person I hired has from Riyadh. At first I did not know he was religious. But I noticed during Ramadan he was fasting. No one else knew and he was embarrassed to tell anyone. I noticed that he was being pressured by his peers to be like the rest of the people around him. I remembered my own childhood, and the pressure to hide my religion, so I encouraged my Muslim friend. I talked with him, and asked him how I could make it easier for him to fast. He could go home early from work. I could arrange a room for him to pray privately. I – as a Jew – encouraged him to be strong as a Muslim, to pray with great devotion.
The Qu'ran Surah 5, Ayah 48 says "To you We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their false desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a Law and a Path. If Allah had willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you according to what He hath given you:"
Al Tabari quoting Qatada, Abu Ja'far interpreting that verse says "The Torah has Sharia, the Ingil has Sharia; and the Quran has Sharia. In these Sharias, Allah makes different things prohibited and allowed to test His people; to know who obeys Him and who disobeys Him. The one religion that Allah accepts is none other than monotheism and devotion to Allah. That is the common message of all the prophets".
The Ayah ends by saying "So strive as in a race in all good deeds. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you are different;
This is very compatible with our teachings and the example I gave above. According to Rabbi Benamozegh, when Jews can see Muslims as doing good deeds, and this inspires the Jews to do good deeds – When Muslims can see Jews as doing good deeds, and this inspires them to do more good deeds, this is a wondrous sign that the Redemption is very close.
We firmly believe the final redemption and the coming of the Messiah is immanent, and we are already living in those days. bimhera b'yamenu. Amen