Some Commentary

May 29, 2015

tumblr_np1w181Lwq1qapk2qo1_500I saw this on my FB friend Ben’s status and wanted to give some commentary on it, he’s quoted fully in italics and my comments are underneath.

“Just some thoughts I wanted to share. I apologize ahead of time for the length. To know and understand the degree to which a painting has been marred and disfigured must be based on knowing and understanding what the painting was designed to look like in the first place.

Similarly, human beings should properly understand themselves as image bearers of God – hence have intrinsic value – in order to understand the gravity and perversion of sin and its effects on the human person.”

The 99 names of God –though there are more, are reflected in humanity. His names like The Merciful, The Compassionate, The Beautiful, though you will not find its exact likeness in humanity there are similar attributes within humanity. The difference is God’s attributes are absolute and not dependent on His creation or even His action. He was The Merciful before the existence of creation whereas a human being would only be said to be merciful after showing themselves to be so.

“We are valuable intrinsically because God made us in His image. He pursued and died for us because we were worth dying for unlike the rest of creation. If our value and worth cannot be quantified, then it’s of a complete different kind of value from other objects in the universe.”

The human being has certainly been elevated above other creation as the “vicegerent”. When God told the angels he would create humans on earth they responded, “will you create those who spill blood on earth?” He said you know not what I know, he gave the human being a level of intellectual capacity he did not give the angels and he gave us the ability to worship him through free choice, which he did not give the angels, this elevated us above all creation. The reference to death is, I believe to Jesus Christ. God further explains to us in the Quran that Jesus Christ did not die but God made him appear to die, took him up to heaven, and that he is waiting to be sent down in the last days. This of course does not belittle Christ’s sacrifice for us in his life, but a clarification that God did not allow him to die. In the fundamentals of Aqidah, faith, we know that God does not die, one of his attributes is that he is All Living, Eternal.

“Hence God didn’t pursue us because some or most of us behaved well. If our value and redemption and representation in Christ at the cross were exemplified and based on our behaviors, Christ could _not_ have died for all humanity or represented every human being in the Incarnation. Why? Not all human beings have equal instances of behavior. But all do share one thing in common without differentiation: bearing God’s image.”

This is a valuable point, the differential treatment/ outlook we must apply to human behavior and the intrinsic human self. My own spiritual guide, may God preserve him, was born a Christian, became agnostic and later became Muslim. The reality of a person is never truly known through the mere observing eye. God’s mercy for a person is not solely based on behavior. Yes God has mercy for all human life, and he has another for particular human beings in the next life. Christ on the cross is a powerful image and though an image of Jesus is disagreeable from a law standpoint the power of the image is undeniable and a reminder of his sacrifice. Jesus Christ and all prophets did in fact “die for our sins” in that they gave their lives to save us from them. The literally death of one person to free many souls from sins is inconsistent with the accountability we must all have to God. Intercession, prayer, and great sacrifice can alleviate sins from others but a savior who completely washes our sins doesn’t seem compatible with our individual responsibility to God.

“God pursued us because His image is borne in our natures. If God wanted restoration and redemption for us, He’d need to come with a complete, unadulterated nature of the divine as well as a complete, unadulterated nature of human beings. Both God and man had to be simultaneously present in the God-man Jesus Christ.”

It is a good explanation of the concept. One attribute of God is that he is not like anything in his creation. Divinity, Godliness, etc. embodied in sainthood and prophet-hood is possible. Jesus Christ was a man, a prophet, which makes him a highly refined version of a human being, one might even say he reached the heights of humanity surpassing even the angels. God is not imitable and so Jesus Christ could neither be nor become God. God gives us a chance at redemption in every instance of prophet-hood, sainthood, and messenger. Also in ever prayer and ever act of worship; the chance for redemption is available.

“Sin wasn’t brought to justice at the cross and death at the resurrection because bad and wicked behavior was rampant. Sin was put on Christ because He bore the impact – concerning the totality of the human race – of the damage on the imago dei that sin had wrought.”

Jesus Christ certainly bared the sins of humanity as every prophet did; it was their sole job to save us from our selves. They truly bore our entire burdens on their back, though this alleviated much of our sins -God warns the prophet about worrying himself to death. Through their prayers for us, we still has the freedom to adhere or not to their message, the ultimate relationship and responsibility is with God and each individual human being, something the prophets cannot alleviate us from.

“Hence not mere behavior modification will do the trick but a reorientation of the spiritual component of man that was originally designed to relate to and know God. Since God designed it, only God can fix it and He calls sinners to repent and yield themselves to Him by allowing Christ to re-orchestrate that part of human nature. Sin is so perverse because of what it does to something that good.”

This is a beautiful reminder. My spiritual guide has said to us many times, it is not about doing something but about being something. Someone can outwardly be a saint but inwardly be ruined if they don’t embody (or strive to embody) the spirit and servant-hood of Christ (or Muhammad, or Mary or Asiyah, or several other of our saints and prophets). Doing is not the only task but being, being someone in alignment with God’s will.

“I hope NOBODY thinks I’m elevating man above what he actually is. Man, while much more valuable than the rest of creation, is finite and limited. While human beings are the crown of God’s creation and design, they are also very sinful.”

Another important point. Human beings while being the Caliph (leaders) on earth are still human beings. We are not God; we are imperfect and flawed both in ability and character.

“I’m just trying to give a picture of how we can understand the effects of sin in light of our understanding of the imago dei. Mankind is that valuable that God should pursue him unsolicited. Man is that wicked that God isn’t obligated to rescue him given man’s deliberate and conscious choice to reject Him. But God esteemed and valued man regardless of his condition and deemed man worth pursuing, dying for, and being raised from the dead.”

Seeking understanding is a valuable part of being a human being. Taking sin seriously and attempting to understand it and avoid it is one of our most valuable purposes on earth. Islam is a continuation of monotheism on the same path of Christianity and Judaism and whatever other names were given to the belief in one God. As a Muslim, one accepting this final form of monotheism, I don’t see myself at odds with Christianity I simply believed there is an error in their belief that Jesus is the literal son of God (or God himself) and in their rejection or ignoring of the final messenger who came with what Jesus Christ came with. I will end with the words of negus, an Ethiopian king who provides safety to the Muslims who were being persecuted in their homelands he was at the time Christian. This is his reaction when learning of the prophet’s teaching about Jesus Christ.

“We say about him that which our prophet, peace be upon him, has brought, saying, he is the servant of God, His Prophet, His Spirit, His Word, which he breathed in to Mary the Virgin”

The Negus took a stick from the ground and said, “By God, Jesus, the son of Mary, does not exceed what you have said by the length of this stick” (Seerah of Ibn Hisham)

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