Bible Commentator


Rabbi Moshe Reiss













When asked the basis of Judaism Hillel said ‘do not do unto other as you would not have then do unto you, all else is commentary – go study’. When Jesus was asked he said ‘God is One’ and Love your neighbor as yourself’. Muhammad when asked what is Islam said ‘Believe in Allah and be upright’ 1

Are Jews following Hillel? Are Christians following Jesus?  Are Muslims following Muhammad?

In the 1950’s-1960’s if one can construe a Theology of the West it was Atheism, Communism, Secularism and the Death of God. Something changed in the late 1970’s:

All three of the Abrahamic religions have become more fundamental. We can symbolize this by six events that occurred between 1976-1980:

1.In 1976 Jimmy Carter a man who identified himself as a born-again Christian (Baptist) was elected President of the U.S. (Remember John Kennedy’s problem with his Catholicism sixteen years earlier.)

2. In 1977 Menachem Begin became the Prime Minister of Israel. He was and remains the only Prime Minister who was not a ‘Pork-Eater’. He also signed a Peace agreement with Anwar Sadat.

3.In 1978 John Paul II, the Polish Pope was elected – the man who in my opinion had more to do with the Fall of Communism that any other person. While for the Jews he is the best Pope ever, in other ways he is far more conservative than his predecessor .

4.In 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini took over Iran and founded the Islamic Republic of Iran, a radically innovative Shi’ite movement.

5 that same year the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Muslim reacted by beginning a Holy War against the Soviet Union. The liberal West saw this as a fight against Atheistic Communism, Islam saw it as a war against the West.

6.In 1980 Ronald Reagan backed by the Christian right  - the Moral Majority - became President of the U.S.

These events suggest that in Judaism, Christianity and Islam a sense of conservatism bordering on Fundamentalism, came to the fore.

This was extraordinary for someone who matured in the 1960’s when Civil Right, anti-Vietnam war and the Feminist revolution seemed to have won in  the U.S. if not in the entire liberal West, based on Secularism and the Death of God. What happened to the hegemony of Secularism? How has Faith been resurrected? Where did people who hate Secular Humanism and the Liberal Culture come from? In the 1950’s – 1980’s it appeared that modernization was based on secularism. But the six events I have noted suggest the ‘desecularization’ of the Western World. Peter Berger, a sociologist and theoretician of secularization of the world has stated in a recent book that he was wrong. The world ‘is as furiously religious as it ever was, and in some places more so than ever.’  2 In his original view he was restating what Max Weber and Emile Durkheim had believed that secularism will destroy religion.

What is the significance of George Bush telling Recep Tayyip Erdogen, the Prime Minister of the Secular Republic of Turkey ‘You believe in the Almighty, I believe in the Almighty; That’s why we will be great partners’ and Tony Blair being called the ‘the most overtly pious leader since Gladstone’ while the pacifistic Gerhard Schroeder refused to end his oath of office with ‘so help me God’

Does this suggest that Samuel Huntington may be wrong about a ‘Clash of Civilizations’ – there may be a clash between modernity and secularism on the one hand and tradition and conservatism on the other hand in all three religions. It also suggests that Francis Fukuyama may be wrong that Liberal Democracy (and globalization) have taken over the world and is ‘The End of History’. Perhaps the problem is better defined as did Isaiah Berlin by distinguishing between Negative Liberty and Positive Liberty. Berlin defined Negative Liberty as interfering with an individual liberty: physical, spiritual and emotional.  Positive Liberty stems from defining what people ought to do: a Messianic (religious) or Utopian (secular) ideology. The latter can also be defined as Fascism, Communism or Fundamentalism. 3

All three religions developed extremist groups in the next decade to fight and exterminate  ‘EVIL’. Mark Juergensmeyer has defined the conflict as between Religious Nationalism and Secular Nationalism. 4

*An Israeli-Arabic Newspaper - ‘The Voice of Justice And Freedom’

‘A louse nesting in the body of the Arab world and sucking its blood and resources – which has permitted verminous rabbis to damage Al-Aqsa’.

*Newspaper published by Shas (Ultra-Orthodox Sephardic Movement) – ‘Day by Day’

‘Statement by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to Prime Minster Ahud Barak – ‘What do you want with these snakes? These wicked Arabs, its written that God regretted that He created Ishmael.’

When he [Muhammad] investigated the cause of these civil wars, he found that the Jews were behind them. The most grave thing the Prophet saw was the war raging between the Aws and Khazraj tribes. When he investigated the cause of this great war between the two largest tribes, he found a Jew behind it. A Jew named Shas sparked the fire of civil strife between the Aws and Khazraj. 5

*Rabbi Meir Kahane – ‘kill Arabs and drive then out of Israel and the Occupied Territories’. 6

*Baruch Goldstein, M.D.  – murdered 29 Palestinians while they prayed in Abraham’s tomb.

*Yigal Amir (a student at a religious University) assassinated Yitzchak Rabin.

As de Toqueville said ‘Enemies never tell men the truth’.

*Reverend Paul Hill a leading member of the Phineas Priesthood shot to death a clinical doctor performing abortions in Pensacola, Florida using Phineas (Num. 25:6-12) as his model. 7

*The American Christian Identity movement claims that ‘Jesus Christ was not a Semite, but an Aryan, The lost tribes of Israel are composed not of Jews, but of blue eyed Aryans, white Anglo-Saxons and not Jews are the true ‘Chosen People’ and the United States is the Promised Land.’ 8

*Timothy McVeigh, the bomber of Oklahoma City, belonged to a similar such group. He called himself a ‘Minuteman’ a founding group of the American revolution.

At the moment we need not elaborate on the Jihad proclaimed by Osama bin Laden or Sheik Yassin of Hamas.

Who determines when violence or suicide is more important that the Higher Good of life (choose life - Deut. 30:19)? The Holy Books unfortunately do give examples of suicide (Samson), martyrdom (Jesus) or attempted child murder (Abraham and his son) even genocide (Books of Joshua and Judges). The examples are not to suggest these as models to be followed. Religious inspiration has also supported Peacemakers such as M. K. Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr., Elie Wiesel, Jimmy Carter and Khan Abdul Ghaffer Khan (known as the Islamic St. Francis 9).

All three of the Abrahamic Religions (and others) have support among their fundamentalist followers. The Book of Joshua can be seen as a justification for genocide. It is the favorite book of Greater Israel advocates. The thirteen century Islamic commentator Ibn Taymiya (1268-1328) is a prominent Jihadist and was read by three of the four assassins of Sadat as their justification. Passion plays come from the Gospels.

Who are the ‘legitimate interpreters’ of God?

Do not all of the Three Monotheistic Religions believe in the same God as creator?

Why cannot sacred land be shared?

Is God really an ethnic Nationalist?

Or is God simply a victim – a Scapegoat - to His own created people?

Who needs teshuva (repentance) and who needs and who can give forgiveness?

The Conflicts that exploded in the 20th century – War, Nationalism and Terrorism - developed out of the Enlightenment of the 18th century and the Scientism and Modern Technology of the 20th century. The Enlightenment created Secularism as an Ideology and from it came Scientism and Modern Technology. No one can avoid these. When the 20th century began the average life expectancy was 30 years by the end of that century it had more than doubled to almost 70 years. It also connected the world – the Global Village - in a manner my grandparents  who began their lives in the 19th century - could never have envisioned. That connection tied into Modern Technology made World Wide Terrorism not only possible but likely.

Those whose life expectancy has been expanded will live decades longer in poverty unless they accept Scientism and Modern Technology. Can Islam develop a concept of ‘semi-modernity and de-westernization’? 10 Can one accept Scientism and Modern Technology without accepting the Enlightenment? Or does this require accepting Secularism? I suspect Secularism - that is the understanding that society is based on the rationalist’s view of the world – is necessary. That may be an existential problem.

Fundamentalists do not accept the Enlightenment and the Emancipation – the basis of Scientism and Modern Technology. Fundamentalism exists in Judaism in two forms – Haredism or Ultra-Orthodoxy and the Greater Israel supporters. However Fundamentalism is not an important political force in Judaism. Too many Jews are secular for Fundamentalism to take hold particularly in the secular state of Israel. Fundamentalism exists in Christianity in its various denominations but in Europe and the Americas secularism is predominant. Islam is predominant in third world countries who have not succeeded in joining the Global economic system. This is partly because they have not accepted the Enlightenment and Emancipation. They are not secular societies. They are stuck in medieval systems of politics and economics. These foster ‘Political Islam’ or ‘Radical Islam’.

Fundamentalism is a pandemic disease like AIDS and like the latter requires a cure. Both cures are likely to take a long time to develop.

Poetical verses from the Dictionary of the Khazars. by Milorad Pavic:(Hamish Hamilton, London, 1989)

‘The three rivers of the ancient world of the dead – the Acheron, the Phegethon and the Cocytus – today belong to the underworlds of Islam, Judaism and Christianity: their flows divide their hells – Gehenna, Hades and the icy hell of the Muhammedan’s – beneath the one time Khazar land’s.

And there, at the juncture of these three borders are confronted the three world’s of the dead:

Satan’s fiery state, with nine circles of Christian Hades, with Lucifer’s throne and with the flags of the Prince of Darkness;

The Muslim underworld, with kingdom of icy torment and Gebhurah’s territory, to the left of the Temple where Hebrew gods of evil, greed and hunger sit, in Gehenna;

In the Jewish Hell, in the State of Belial, the angel of darkness and sin, it is not Jews who burn, all Arabs or Christians burn there.

Similarly there are no Christians in the Christian hell – those who reach the fires are Mohammedans or of David’s faith

Whereas in the Muslim torture chamber they are all Christians or Jews, not a single Turk or Arab.’

Ralph  Waldo Emerson’s American God

‘I will not live out of me; I will not see with other eyes.

My good is good, my evil ill.

I would be free – I cannot be, while I take things as others please to rate them.

I dare attempt to lay out my own road; that which myself delights in shall be good, That which I do not want – indifferent, That which I hate is bad.

Henceforth, please God, forever I forego the yoke of men’s opinion, I shall be lighthearted as a bird and live with God.

I find Him in the bottom of my heart, I hear continually His voice therein.

My heart did never counsel me to sin.

I wonder where it got its wisdom.

Did that gentle angel fail its oracle, that little needle always knows the north, the little bird remembers it note and the wise seer never errs.

I never taught it what it teaches me, I only follow when I act aright.

Whence then did this Omniscient Spirit come?

From God it came; from the Deity.’


Judaism was begun by Abraham preaching against idolatry. This religion believed in a universal God. It was intended for the biological children of Abraham. Christianity began as a sect of Judaism that expanded its mission universally. Having originated by Jesus, the Jew, Christianity eventually rejected Judaism as an obsolete religion. Mohammad began his religious ideas in Mecca and later moved to Medina and similarly universalized his religion against both the national religion of the Jews and the universal religion of Christianity. Islam protested that both Judaism and Christianity became ‘false religions’ despite the validity of their prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus being valid prophets. According to the Qur’an there members sinned, rejected their valid contract with God and thus came Muhammad emerged as the final prophet.  

Thus Christianity claimed to supercede Judaism and Islam claimed to supercede both Judaism and Christianity. All three religions have true believers who claim and are convinced that they speak in the name of God.

The Jews are hated for many reasons, to be sure, not least of which is the fact that as the oldest of the Abrahamic religions, this gives them a claim to legitimacy; this represents a stumbling block to Christians as well as Muslims. The two newer and larger Abrahamic religions would feel rather more comfortable if the Jews were perceived as having suffered for their rejected of Christ or Mohammed respectively.

Orthodox Jews claim that their Torah is the direct word of God. Orthodox Christians claim the words of Jesus as enunciated in the Gospels are the word of God. Orthodox Muslims claim that their Qur’an is the direct word of God. They each define God in their own religious image – is that not idolatry?

Does the Jewish claim require the rejection of Jesus and Muhammad as false prophets? Does the Christian claim require the rejection or overtaking Moses? Does the Islamic claim require castigating and abrogating the previous revelations? Moses according to the Pentateuch met God at Mt. Sinai. Jesus met Moses and Elijah at a high mountain. When Muhammad went to Jerusalem he met Abraham, Moses and Jesus in his out of body flight from the ‘furthest Mosque’.  Aliya Izetbegova (Bosnian cleric and president) wrote an Islamic state is intended to be a ‘midway between the City of God and the City of the Sun imagined by utopian reformers’. 11

A written text is more universal than a private conversation between God and a prophet.  God may have spoken to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, but that conversation was not recorded, it was not a text. It later became a text. A text requires interpreters. Those who interpret in Jewish history are scribes - ‘the successors of the prophets - the new bearers of the divine word - and like prophets depended on something like divine inspiration in order to receive God’s word’. 12

   Reading differs significantly from listening; hence reading a text is significantly different than listening. Listening requires hearing through ones ears. If one is  blind one hears differently. If a speaker looked like an Old Testament Prophet one would hear him differently. If one reads a text one sees it through ones eyes. This is inherently different than hearing through ones ears. The difference emanates from ones perspective and sensitivity among other characteristics.

   In Jewish tradition Moses was told the Pentateuch directly by God and he related it to the Hebrew people. Judaism tradition does not state who originally wrote it down. Jeremiah found a book traditionally referred to as the book of Deuteronomy.  Jeremiah lived approximately 800 years after Moses. Ezra (living 150 years after Jeremiah) brought from Babylon a book he read to the populace traditionally the Pentateuch.

   In the Islamic tradition Muhammad listened to the word of God as enunciated the angel Gabriel. He then transmitted this to others (since he was illiterate according to the Qur’an) who wrote it down. 13 We know that in the beginning that several versions of the Qur’an existed until a ‘canonized’ text was agreed upon. This is equally true of the Hebrew Bible, there were  several books not included in the canonized final version .14 Even today, in the Hebrew text there are numerous words that are read (and listened to) differently from the way they are written and seen.

      An Islamic scholar Yvonne Haddad has noted: ‘While many Muslim scholars delight in quoting extensively from Western sources on Biblical criticism . . .[it] proves for Muslims their contention that Christians and Jews have distorted their own scriptures to validate their own evil ways.’  She then notes ‘the paradox of the validity of one methodology for the study of the scriptures of one faith and the sanctity of the traditional method for the study of the Qur’an is not noted by a single author’. 15 She does however note that Muhammad Ahmad Khalaf Allah an Egyptian, presented a doctoral thesis at the Cairo University in 1947 studying the Qur’an as ‘narratives as literature, judging them by modern standards and literary standards’. He reviewed the Qur’an as received in ‘historical context and the narratives may refer to historical events’. His thesis approved by his advisor was nonetheless controversial and it was rejected by the University. 16 Ms. Stowasser, also notes the same dissertation. 17 It is not surprising that two Islamic feminists relate the story of a male scholar who rejects the Islamic tradition. Abu Zayd, a professor of Qur’anic studies in the University of Gizeh  taught that the Qur’an was a product of the Arabic historic social and political context of its time.  Furthermore he claimed religion was more than ‘stoning adulterers and cutting off the hands of thieves and flogging someone who drank wine . . [this] does no justice to the shari’a and the revelation’. 18  He was taken to court with a legal suit  filed to force him to divorce his wife. An apostate cannot be married to a Muslim woman. Egyptian law does not allow the death penalty for apostatsy. Zayd and his wife fled to Europe. 19

      Islamic textual criticism today is an underground enterprise, practiced in near secret by a handful of scholars with access to alternative sources, e.g., variants of Koranic text exhumed in Yemen. The pseudonymous Pakistani writer "Ibn Warraq", the best-known popularizer of the available academic work, hides his identity with good reason. Muslims who question the divine sanctity of Koranic text face persecution or worse. Ominously, "Ibn Warraq" entitled his best-known book Why I Am Not A Muslim, suggesting that the first effect of Koranic criticism may be rejection rather than reform of Islam.

      In the advent of the Christian Reformation, the Catholic Church showed no more tolerance than today's Islamic leaders. It hunted down the textual critics with a vengeance. No complete copy survive of a Spanish translation of the Hebrew Bible printed at Valencia in 1478, half a century before Luther, because the Inquisition burned them all. Sir Thomas More issued the Christian equivalent of a fatwa against the English Bible translator William Tyndale (burned at the stake in 1536). It is worth remembering, though, that just a decade after Tyndale's death, King Henry VIII had a copy of his Bible translation placed for public inspection in every Church in England.

      A well known hadith (traditional sayings of Mohammad) proclaims that Abraham build Al-Aqsa as the second Mosque on earth after having erected first the Kabah (in Mecca). This clearly contradicts historical reality. ‘We do not see any contradiction between the Qur’anic report and the historical reality’. 20 The perfect example is Jerusalem. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is old and ancient. Judaism made Jerusalem a holy city over three thousand years ago and through all that time Jews remained steadfast to it. Jews pray in its direction and as a result Muslims did before their problems with Jews, its name was constantly in their prayers Jews recall the city in the blessing at the end of each meal. The destruction of the Temple looms very large in Jewish consciousness; remembrance takes such forms as a special day of mourning, houses left partially unfinished, a woman's makeup or jewelry left incomplete, and a glass smashed during the wedding ceremony.

      Jerusalem is of relatively minor religious importance to Muslims never mentioned by name. Why do Palestinian demonstrators take to the streets shouting "We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Jerusalem" and their brethren in Jordan yell "We sacrifice our blood and soul for Al-Aqsa"? Why does King Fahd of Saudi Arabia call on Muslim states to protect "the holy city [that] belongs to all Muslims across the world"? Historical reality is clearly irrelevant to this political view.

      Yitzhak Reiter has written a study of the first and last of these dubious claims for the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, a summary of which by Nadav Shragai is published today in Ha'aretz. He traces the development of a new Palestinian argument about Jerusalem, the main themes of which are that "the Arabs ruled Jerusalem thousands of years before the children of Israel" and "a denial and negation of the Jewish-Zionist narrative." The audacity of this specious presentation make the head spin. Here are a few, taken from the Shragai account:


      The Muslims are slowly dropping use of the name given to the Temple Mount complex - Haram al-Sharif, which gave it its status as the third holiest site in Islam and reverting to exclusive use of the earlier name, Al-Aqsa, which appears in the Koran.

      Contrary to the standard history whereby the Al-Aqsa mosque was built in the seventh century, in recent years an ancient tradition from the beginning of Islam has been gaining ground. According to it, the Al-Aqsa mosque was built 40 years after the construction of the mosque in Mecca by Adam (i.e., close to the seven days of creation). Other traditions that appear in the Waqf administration offices in Jerusalem attribute the building of the mosque to Abraham and Solomon.

      The surroundings of Al-Aqsa mosque are not narrowly defined, as was the case in the past, and they are now providing an opening for the interpretation that Al-Aqsa refers to all of Jerusalem, and most recently, it refers to all of Palestine.

      The fact that Israel's official policy - as embodied in the decisions of the Chief Rabbinate Council, the government and the High Court of Justice - leaves the administration of the Temple Mount in the hands of the Muslim Waqf is not recognized in the contemporary Muslim world. On the contrary, "the activities of extremist Jewish entities, some of them minuscule, to revive the [First] Temple ritual, is perceived and disseminated by Palestinian sources as if it is a reflection of official policy," says Reiter

      This was not always acceptable in Islam. For the first several hundred years Islam had the greatest philosophers and questioners in the world.  But things have changed in Islam in the last five hundred years. These changes have created the fight against modernity and the support of suicide bombers. 21

      Judaism and Christianity no longer accept that paradox. Both religions accept the pain of critical scholarship and the conflict between reason and faith.

      Shabbir Akhtar a devout Muslim notes ‘that the Qur’an was, in the first instance, addressed to a group of people whose mood and temperament as well as dogma and perspective differed radically from that prevalent today in modern industrial societies. The Qur’an’s original audience was composed of people naturally innocent not only of modern skepticism but also of secular proclivities associated with rise of critical history and all its rigorous canons of authenticity. Moreover, today we are less willing to tolerate hyperbole or exaggeration . . . Today there is a concern that the facts, including historical facts, be suitably isolated from sentiment and ideal. There has certainly been a paradigmatic shift in outlook – a shift we cannot ignore if we are to make the Qur’an relevant to modern humanity’. 22

      None of these analyses surprises western analysts.

The difference between Judaism on the one hand and Christianity and Islam on the other hand is the former believes its truths are universal, but its religion is particularistic and not exclusive. That means that Salvation or ‘going to heaven or the world to come’ does not require acceptance of the particularistic Covenant of Sinai. That is required only of Jews. Righteousness, another name for Salvation does not require the Particularistic rules of Sinai, but what has been called Natural Law. In Judaism these are called the Noahide laws originating with the Covenant of Noah. These require observance of the following seven rules: the prohibition of idolatry, blasphemy (lying), murder, forbidden sexual relations, theft, cruelty to animals and the positive commandment to establish a system of justice.

These need no come from the Torah; reason may suggest the same. Judaism recognizes an independent sphere of wisdom  which - unlike Torah - is distributed throughout the world, with no culture or civilization having a monopoly of it. The non-Jewish sage comes to the knowledge of G-d not through revelation but through philosophy and science the multiple modes through which humanity has come to understand creation as the work of G-d and the human person as the image of G-d. The term wisdom has a long and complex history in Jewish thought, but its simplest expression is the saying of Ben Zoma: ‘Who is wise? One who learns from everyone.’ From this comes the Talmudic imperative that ‘the righteous of the nations of the world have a share in the world to come’.

An additional context in which the universality of the Torah is seen is in God’s appearance to and words to non-Jews – Laban and Avimelekh; he is served by non-Jews Malkizedek and Naaman (II Kings 5:15-19); an Egyptian Princess saves Moses live and in fact names him, Moses father-in-law, Jethro a Midian Priest give Jews their system of governance. Non-Jews experience a theophany – Job; non-Jewish prophets exist – Bilaam. Solomon asks God to listen to non-Jews in his benediction upon consecration of the Temple (I Kings 8:43). Amos asks ‘are not Israelites to me as the Cushites’ (Amos 9:7) and Isaiah states that one day Israel’s enemies will become God’s chosen alongside Israel (Is. 19:19-25). Malachi even claims that other nations recognize God more than Israel (Malachi 1:11-12). Ishmael who represents Islam is blessed by God (Gen. 17:20) and Esau who represents Christianity is given by his father Isaac a very similar blessing as the one bestowed on his brother Jacob (27:27-29 and 27:39-40) .

The Talmud – the ‘oral law’ clearly states that the ‘righteous gentile’ goes to heaven 23, even before the High Priest. 24 Salvation is the reward available to good men regardless of their religion. 25 Or lack of religion. Maimonides tells us that if one observes the seven commandments ‘based on a reasoned conclusion’ as opposed to believing it comes from revelation confers the status of ‘one of their sages’. 26  Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (the first Ashkenazik Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel) stated that Maimonides believed that ‘one who reaches the same conclusion through the use of reason is truly ‘wise in heart and full of understanding’ and is regarded as ‘one of their sages’ because the virtue of wisdom is very great. It was therefore not necessary to say the he [the sage] has a share in the world to come, for he stands at the level of holiness, which calls for a higher expression than ‘he has a share in the world to come’. 27 Further proof of such is found in the Talmud. “Our Rabbis taught that on seeing the sages of Israel one should say ‘Blessed be He who has imparted of His wisdom to them that fear Him’. One seeing sages of the nations, one says ‘Blessed be He who has imparted of His wisdom to his creatures’.” 28

From this one would have to believe that according to Jewish law Plato and Aristotle, Pope John XXIII and John Paul II have a share in the world to come.

The Mishnah tell us that ‘when a human being makes many coins in the same mint, they all come out the same. When God makes every human being in the same mint – His image – we all emerge differently. We must see God’s Image in someone who is not in my Image – who is Black or Yellow – who is Christian or Muslim. Tolstoy wrote his novels in Russian, Shakespeare his tragedies in English, Goethe his play Faust in German, Mishima his sonnets and novels in Japanese and Mahfouz his novels in Arabic. All were made in God’s image.

While one can find Suras 29 that do not abrogate the previous Abrahamic revelations neither traditional Islam nor traditional Christianity have held to that belief. Both too often believe in exclusivity and ultimately in supremacy. 30

No religion has a moral and ethical right to enforce the exclusivity of its religion on others.  Intolerance begins with this exclusivity. Why the need for self-righteousness when God is known as the merciful? Why the need to demonize and legitimize violence? Why the need to claim ‘I am better than he’ (38:76), a statement by Satan. Cannot all – even the ‘other’ - be full citizens in the world to come?

Perhaps we can learn of God’s tolerance from the following Midrash.

A stranger came to visit Abraham. Abraham offered his hospitality, a meal and drinks and a place to sleep. When the food was ready Abraham said ‘let us pray to God for the food’. The stranger said ‘I do not pray to God’. Abraham said ‘I do not serve in my tent unless we pray’. The strange said ‘I do not pray to God and he left. Later that night God came to Abraham and said ‘where is the stranger I saw you invited in for a meal and lodging’? Abraham told God the story and how he had chased him away. God sighed and said ‘For more than 75 years I have fed, housed and dressed this man and never once has he thanked me, but perhaps one day he will repent and return to me. Could you not take care of him for one night?’  

Can one believe in God as ‘Al Rahman’ ‘the merciful one’ as he is called in the Qur’an and yet accept that He can reject the majority of human beings who never heard of Him. The Qur’an states that ‘messengers bearing good tidings, and warnings, so  that humankind might have no arguments against God’ (4:163). 31 For the world’s Abrahamic family God’s word is available first through the Hebrew Bible, then the Gospels and finally through the Qur’an. Are there additional messengers for other members of humankind?

Despite the genuine differences that exist among the three Abrahamic traditions, they all put forward visions of peace. Do they need to meet as rivals? Can they not meet as partners and moral equals in building a shared future. In knowing each other, they can give the best of their traditions and values to creating a peaceful world?


Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Muslims have a sacred canopy that includes a dress code, eating rules and rituals, gender and intimate relations, intolerant forms of educating their children, negotiating time, space and their social calendar. Both place great emphasis on law – God’s law - as opposed to Christianity with its emphasis on faith and God’s grace. Neither religion has an official clergy that differs from the lay people. Imam’s and Rabbis are the learned, they do not have special rights or obligations.

Christianity and Islam are proselytizing faiths believing their religion is universal. Judaism differs; as the founder of the monotheistic religion it considers itself the teachers; a kingdom of priests. Its many laws only apply to Jews, the rest of the world’s population has only seven laws including monotheism, not killing, stealing, lying, illicit sexuality, cruelty to animals and requirements of systems of justice.

Islam was from the beginning a missionizing religion that quickly conquered; that were used to being in a majority. Jewish experience was the opposite. Christians began in opposition to the Roman Empire but within three hundred years conquered it. The statement by Jesus of ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and to God the things that are God’s’ was made by a Jew under Roman oppression. Christianity and Islam developed (after the conquest by Constantine) as a majority religion.  The Christian Reformation and religious wars and then the Enlightenment Christianity radically changed. There was no longer a ‘Holy Roman Empire’. With both the reformation in western Christianity and the secularism of the enlightenment the individual became more important than the community. Islam never had a reformation nor the impact of the enlightenment. Its community and political thought continued its aversion to dissension and strife. The have been fewer attempts at imposing religious hegemony in Islam when compared to the religious wars in Christianity seeking heretics.

For Jews this year 2004 (civic calendar – which is a Christian based calendar) is 5765 year from creation; for Muslims this year is 1424 from the beginning of Muhammad’s revelation (July 16, 622). Both have a calendar based on the Moon (354 days) rather than the Sun; the Jewish calendar adds another preset month periodically thus keeping the holidays related to the Sun based agricultural cycles. The Muslims do not and thus Ramadan, the month long holy period of day light fasting changes by an approximate month each civic year. The Jewish ten days of ‘awe’ beginning in Rosh Hashonah and ending in Yom Kippur always occurs in September – October of the civic year. Jews do not fast on their ten days only on the day of Yom Kippur itself.

Both are strictly monotheistic and anti-idolatry. Both have a holy scripture, written according to believers by God, and a traditional oral tradition (the ‘hadith’ and the ‘Talmud’).

Muslims have five pillars; Faith in God and Muhammad, prayer, charity, fasting on Ramadan and the Hajj or pilgrimage. Jews do not note any specified number of ‘pillars’ (although Maimonides 13 principals is held by many of the orthodox) but one needs faith in God, prayers are an integral part of Jewish orthodoxy, charity, fasting on Yom Kippur and several other fast days during the year and pilgrimage during the existence of the Temple.

Jews pray to God three times each day, Muslims five times a day. In both communities praying with a congregation is preferred but not necessarily. In both the congregation (kehilla in Hebrew) as a whole is important. The Prophet said: "The Muslim community (ummah) is like a body; if one part is in distress, the whole suffers. Jews would agree. Each has special days of prayer, Saturday for Jews and Friday for Muslims as well as special prayer days during the year. Jews do not work on their holy days, Muslims do.  Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca is required once in a lifetime and perhaps can be compared to the pilgrimage the Jews used to make to the Temple in Jerusalem. Both religions have other holidays where praying and festive eating are usually part of the ritual. Both celebrate ritually births, puberty, marriage and death with specific prayers..

Both Jews and Muslims have dietary laws forbidding many animals and limiting a few for food. The forbidden animals are similar (such as pigs and dogs), both require human slaughtering and a prayer. Maimonides stated that Islamic slaughtering was adequate for Jews to eat. Many Muslims accept Jewish kosher food as sufficient for their religious requirements.

The Qur’an lists only pig and carrions as animals that are prohibited to eat. Everything that grows is permitted. All animals that can be eaten must be ritually slaughtered. The purpose of the ritual slaughtering is to quickly kill the animal with no pain and to rid the animal of its blood – blood being forbidden. Meat consecrated to other gods is forbidden. Meat slaughtered by Jews is specifically mentioned as kosher to Muslims. Wine is forbidden

Both have rules of Purity (‘taharah’ in both Hebrew and Arabic) and contamination of defilement. A woman is defiled by menstruation and child birth (Both religions us forty days as the period of contamination after  childbirth.). During the time when a woman is contaminated she cannot touch a man. Muslims can also be contaminated by touching non-‘kosher’ animals. In Islam contamination requires immersion by water or by sand (if water is unavailable - on the contaminated part). Jews require immersion by water. Both religions require prayers after the immersion. Before one eats and prays one needs to wash, called ablutions in Arabic, to release the ‘tamah’ or impurity from one body and perhaps ones heart.

According to the Qur’an the Arab people are chosen, not necessarily Muslims. Does this mean that Arab tribal norms should be Muslim norms? In Judaism Ashkenazic norms are not Sephardic norms; both different norms are acceptable. After the death of Muhammad in 632, Islamic Sages interpreted the Qur’an and the saying of the Prophet. By the eleventh century the ‘Hadith’ was closed as the Talmud was closed by the sixth century. Both books were not only closed but Fixed. Further interpretation became, with few exceptions no longer possible, with the exception of new issues. Even then the first place to seek for answers was the Talmud or the Hadith. While in the twelfth and following centuries Islam came into its Golden age and interrelated with Christians and Jews that was primarily in Northern Africa and Spain, and not in Damascus or Baghdad and was more in secular thinking, philosophy, mathematics, poetry and art. It was not in Islamic theological thinking. Maimonides in the same period and from the same background was both a learned secularist as well as a Rabbinic scholar.   


Is religion an imperialistic endeavor? Does religion mean ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’?

Islam in Arabic means submission to God. Judah, (for which Judaism is named) is the great grandson of the Qur’anic noted prophet Abraham and son of the Qur’anic noted prophet Jacob and Jesus the Qur’an noted prophet are God’s representative as is Muhammad.

Why does the Church need to supersede the Synagogue? Why does the Mosque supersede the Church? Why must Protestants supersede Catholics? 32 Is it really possible to believe that God has only one blessing? My God being better that yours is a truly irreligious idea. Cannot each revelation, each tradition illuminate the other? Why is it so difficult to accept the value of another and of a different faith community - its redemptive value? Why is it so difficult to accept the ‘other’? Can we not ‘have one standard for stranger and citizen alike’? (Lev. 24:22)

Why do all related religions seem to have a need to supersede the other rather than co-exist and expand on each other? Why the need for exclusive legitimacy? Is Jewish chosen-ness any more real or objective than Muslim chosen-ness? (‘You are the best community ever brought forth to human beings’ (3:110) 33 Can we all accept the Qur’an’s ‘And for every people there is a Messenger’ (Sura 10:48)? Can God be exhausted by one scripture, one people – if He is the creator of the world is He not required to cover all of His creatures?

Monotheism is a belief in one God, a God that is transcendent. Humanity requires a God that is imminent, perhaps even a need a particularistic theology. Judaism is a religion and a people/nation, and therefore more particularistic than Christianity and Islam which claim a universalistic mission.  

In the Bible God tells us of his transcendence. When Job questions God after his unjustified suffering His response to Job is:  ‘Who is this whose ignorant words smear my design with darkness?  . . . Have you seen to the edge of the universe? . . . Have you seen where the snow is stored or visited the storehouse of hail?  . .  Do you count the months of her [antelope] fullness and know when her time has come? . . . He [the behemoth] is first the works of God, created to be my plaything.  . . . Will you catch [the Leviathan] with a fishhook or tie his tongue with a thread?  . . . Go ahead: attack him: you will never try it again. (Job 38:2,18, 22; 39:2; 40:19,25; 41:2 34)  Job’s response is ‘I am speechless: what can I answer? (Job 40:3).

This is God’s beautiful non-answer to Job’s questioning about his suffering. Job understands. This is God’s definition of his transcendent. Job’s response is humanity can never understand transcendence.

While the book of Job the Bible tells us of God it does not contain a theology for Humanity.  In order to humanize God as an imminent being Judaism’s intermediary is Moses (Ex. 20:16), 35 Christianity’s is Jesus and Islam’s is Mohammad.

Judaism is a religion for Jews; the rest of the world, the ‘other’, need only obey the Noahide referred to previously. In fact the Torah tells us over forty times to treat the ‘other’ equally. The Hebrew Bible wails against ‘idol worshipers’ not God believers. The sailors in the Book of Jonah are respected for their praying to their God. Many Jewish scholars recognize the validity of both Christianity and Islam. Christianity until recently assumed one had to be baptized to Jesus to receive salvation. That has recently changed and many Christian theologians now believe in a valid Jewish covenant. Islam has more of a problem in believing that Islam is the only sanctioned religion, Jews and Christians are treated as at best second hand religions although better than idol worshipers.

Christianity made Jesus the Son of God and  Christians called themselves the new Israel. Belief in Jesus is required for Salvation. This is despite Jesus being Jewish. Did he believe in himself as the source of salvation? Recently this has changed in some streams of Christianity, but this requirement for salvation was a primary Christian belief for 1900 years.

Islam believes that God through his angel Gabriel dictated the Koran to Mohammad. In Islamic belief Mohammad is the final prophet and that belief is a requirement for salvation.

Yes it is true I am different from you but is that difference the beginning and the end? Or are our similarities, especially if we both believe in a monotheistic religion whose forefather is Abraham more important? Must we define ourselves in opposition to the ‘other’? If so why does the torah tell us so often to treat the ‘other’ as an equal human being?

Each of the monotheistic religions thus created a sense of exclusiveness or chosenness; a self centered theology; a form of hubris requiring their approval for salvation.

God’s reality is transcendent and in Heaven. He does not need a holy people or a holy land. We do! It is not possible that God wrote the Torah, the words of Jesus and the Koran.  

That is the basis of supersessionism. Those who believe in this exclusiveness seem to believe that they created God’s image in their own image rather than we are all created in God’s image.

      In his book Faith in the Future, which he dedicated to the members of The Council of Christians and Jews, the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, has a section entitled "The Interfaith Imperative," where he recalls having had the privilege of meeting a Hasidic Rebbe, head of a group of Jewish mystics and one of the great religious leaders of the Jewish world, whose teachings had inspired him. Dr Sacks had spoken to him about the apparent exclusivity of the way of life he recommended, which seemed to shut out the rest of the world by its intense, segregated piety. "Was there no beauty and value outside the narrow walls in which he lived?" he asked. The Rebbe’s response, as related by Dr Sacks, is revealing:

      “Imagine, he said, two people who spend their lives transporting stones. One carries bags of diamonds. The other hauls sacks of rocks. Each is now asked to take a consignment of rubies. Which of the two understands what he is now to carry? The man who is used to diamonds knows that stones can be precious, even those that are not diamonds. But the man who has carried only rocks thinks of stones as a mere burden. They have weight but not worth. Rubies are beyond his comprehension. So it is, he said, with faith. If we cherish our own, then we know the value of others. We may regard ours as a diamond and another faith as a ruby, but we know that both are precious stones. But if faith is a mere burden, not only will we not value ours. Neither will we value the faith of someone else. We will see both as equally useless.”

Jews have a right to believe in the universal truth of their religion; Christians have a right to believe in the universal truth of their religion and Muslims have a right to believe in the universal truth of their religion. In the Abrahamic religions the universalism relates to social justice and peace amongst humankind. “Compete with one another in good works’ (Surah 5:48). The Torah tells us to ‘love your neighbor (Lev. 19:18) and the stranger’ (Lev. 19:34), the Gospels to ‘love your enemy’ (Matt. 5:44). All humans were created in the image of god (Gen. 1:27)  and an early commentator of the Qur’an stated that ‘human beings are members in a body whole related from a single essence are they all created’ (based on 4:1-2). 36

Despite the traditional Islamic rejection of Judaism and Christianity as being incomplete there is enormous respect for Abraham who is called God’s friend and is the builder of the Kabah in Mecca 37, for Moses who is called ‘al-Kalin’ the interlocutor and for Jesus who called ‘kalima’ meaning the ‘word’ or as the Gospel of John calls it ‘logos’, his being born of the virgin mother (although not divine), his ‘ruah’ or spirit and for his mother Mary and for ‘my Lord David’. 38

The question of supercessionism does not apply to Judaism since it is the first of the Abrahamic faiths. But the question of exclusivity and chose-ness and what Jews think of Christianity and Islam and other Faith communities is certainly valid.  Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik, an outstanding 20th century theologian has stated that beyond the seven natural laws ‘the logos, the word, in which the multifarious religious experience is expressed does not lend itself to standardization or universalization. The word of faith reflects the numinous character and the strangeness of the act of faith of a particular community which is totally incomprehensible to the man of a different faith community.’ 39 In other words we cannot judge or even understand the faith of other people.

Maimonides had stated that “‘Ishmaelim’ [that is Muslims] are not in any way idolators. [These] have already been removed from their mouths and their hearts [idolatrous beliefs], any they unify God in the appropriate manner”. 40 Furthermore in regards to Christianity, Maimonides stated ‘they believe in the text of the Torah [as we have received it, and do not argue] that it has changed, though they frequently interpret it differently’. 41 He further believed that ‘all these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite who came after him, only served to clear the way for King Messiah, to prepare the whole world to worship God with one accord’. 42

Abarbanel forwarded yet an additional reason for the validity of Christianity and Islam. ‘There is no doubt that this was the most powerful of providential acts that God brought about so that the Torah should not be lost completely. For when He foresaw the duration of this great exile, He saw that if we were to live among the idolatrous culture of antiquity, who had neither heard of the Torah nor witnessed its greatness, the Torah would soon be forgotten. That is why God prepared the cure before the disease by exiling Jews among nations who supported the Torah, and in this way the Torah was sustained. For as we see with our eyes, these nations – Christians and Islam – acknowledge the truth and hold it in high regard, and there is no difference between them as us except in their understanding of it.’ 43  Abarbanel was expelled from Spain by the Christians in 1492.

Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) stated ‘We should consider Christians and Muslims as instruments that will help bring about the recognition of God by all men on earth, While the heathen nations worshipped their idols and denied the existence of God, and thus recognized neither the power of God nor the principle of reward and punishment, the existence of Christians and Muslims helped disseminate among the nations the awareness   of God’s existence, and introduced into the most distant lands the realization that there is a God who rules the world, who rewards and punishes, and who has revealed Himself to men. Indeed, thinking Christian scholars have not only taught the nations to accept the written revelation but have also acted as defenders of the oral revelation which is equally of Divine origin. For when vicious people from our own midst, swore enemies of the Law of God, conspired to abrogate the Talmud and to do away with it, there arose from among the non-Jews defenders who fought against these attempts.’ 44 Rabbi Emden  referring to Jewish apostates and some Christians (perhaps Johannes Echlin (1455-1522) who rejected the concept that the Talmud  was anti-Christian. He further stated that he believed that ‘the writers of the Gospels never meant to say that the Nazarene came to abolish Judaism, but only that he came to establish a new religion for the Gentiles from that time onward.’ 45

The nineteenth century commentator Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch can be said to summarize the Jewish position, ‘the Talmud teaches us that non-Jews who recognize and worship the God of heaven and earth as proclaimed in the Bible, and who fully accept the fundamental rules incumbent upon all men, such as the prohibitions against murder, theft, adultery, etc. are to be placed on an equal level with Jews when it comes to our performing the duties all men owe to one another.’ 46


Islam’s inauguration into the world was a military and political success and this became a key to its religious identity. ‘God has promised those who believe and do works of righteousness that He will make of you His vice-regents on earth as He made others before you.’ (Sura 24:55) 47  ‘Islam was, in its very essence and conception, a faith incorporating the political dimension as integral to its self-image’. 48 Christianity’s inauguration was death by crucifixion. Islam rejected the Christian idea ‘of turning the other cheek’. Christianity was born within the all-powerful Roman Empire. Islam was born in a tribal society without any powerful enemies. 49

By 750 CE (120 years after the death of Muhammad) the Islam Empire extended from Spain and North Africa through the Middle East into India and reached the borders of China – this encompassed a land mass greater than that of the Roman Empire at its zenith. During the Golden Age of Islam there were important Islamic philosophers emerged among them Ibn Sina (980-1037; known in the West as Avicenna) and Ibn Rush’d (1126-1198; known in the West as Averroes) who saw the Qur’an as a metaphor for the word of God.50 Unfortunately their attempts to reconcile reason (philosophy) and theology (scripture based) unfortunately have had little lasting effect of the religion of Islam. 51

Islam’s political failure in the modern world (as witnessed by the shrinking of ‘dar al-Islam’ – the Muslim’s control of the world of believers) is seen by many of its adherents as a religious failure. It is difficult for Muslims to accept that the meek theology of Jesus defeated the sword of Islam.

It is equally true that when the first Temple was destroyed (572 BCE) certain Jews felt that their covenant had been broken. How does one who believes he is chosen by God relate to failure? Some saw this as the beginning of the eschatology. Alternately it mat be view that the believers had failed to observe the purity of their religion. An additional interpretation is that the religion needs to be reformed.

Many Christians believed in the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and expected his imminent return. Two millennium later this can be seen as an historical failure. For Christians the emphasis lay in the eschatological end – the Messianic end. By contrast for Jews the Torah – the way – was itself the  of ultimate import. The means of the way – the way to righteousness was more important than the Messianic end. Christianity, at least according to Paul, became the Messiah without a Torah. Muhammad was clearly teaching a Messianic or eschatological end, but he developed a way – a ‘Torah’ – that was the Road – the law of Din (law in both Arabic and Hebrew) and of the Shari’ah. Thus Islam and Judaism are closer to each other than eiher is to Christianity. Both Judaism and Islam are uncompromisingly monotheistic whereas Christianity entails a concept of a Lord called Jesus who is the Son of God. Neither concept is acceptable to Jews or Muslims. 52 The Qur’an and the Torah are books of law and ritual, more than history. Each has an oral tradition interpreting the Scripture, the Talmud and later commentators within Judaism and the ‘hadith’ and its commentators in Islam. In neither religion do issues of theology or issues of faith ever outweigh how one lives one’s life according to God’s law. The legal rituals have a remarkable similarity.

Orthodox adherents within both Judaism and Islam place great emphasis on ‘Law’ – on correct actions - rather than ‘Faith’. Both have comprehensive legal systems covering times of prayer, what can be eaten and how, charity, inheritance, marriage, purity, sexual relations among many other details of human life. Paul called the Law ‘a curse’ (Gal. 3:13). For the vast majority of Orthodox Jews and Orthodox Muslims obeying the law makes one a good Jew or a good Muslim, rather than theology or right thinking. Getting God’s favor is a question of Mitzvoth or good deeds to Jews and Muslims, not being baptized or hearing the Last Rites before one’s death. Salvation for both requires following the rules. Neither Jews nor Muslims have an organized church in which a Priest and only a Priest can do the sacraments. While a Priest leads the sacraments in Christianity in Judaism requires only a witness. Rabbis and Sheiks and Imams are learned people – teachers – not spokesman for a Church. Rabbis, Sheiks and Imams answer questions about and guide the faithful; they do not offer forgiveness. They answer the questions ‘how much milk in a pot of meat makes it un-kosher? Or how far must a traveler go to be excused from the fast of Ramadan? Liturgy is not led by a Rabbi or Sheik – they merely preach but do not lead the prayers. People pray to God in a fixed liturgical manner on their own.

According to the Qur’an the legal prohibitions and  laws were pronounced by God in the Torah, but they were a punishment for the sinning Hebrews. One of Muhammad’s roles was to liberalize these laws. Thus dietary laws are relaxed; pig is still forbidden and ritual slaughter is retained, but separation of meat and milk and all its ramifications done away. The non-working on the Sabbath is no longer applicable, but ritual praying was increased from three a day to five a day. Laws of ritual purity and ritual impurity were retained. Water purifies impurity as in Judaism, but sand was added – washing with sand is equivalent to washing with water under Islam. The Qur’an only mentioned water as a purifying agent, the Sharia added sand. Islam was a desert based religion. One takes of ones shoes when entering a Mosque as Moses was requested when he saw the Burning Bush.

One of the major events in a Muslim Life is the Pilgrimage to the Kabah in Mecca once in a lifetime during the Holy Month of Ramadan. This pilgrimage is called the Hajj. Ramadan is a month of fasting during daylight hours and repentance. This is similar to the Jewish Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashona and Yom Kippur – days of repentance. Originally Muhammad fasted on Yom Kippur and prayed towards Jerusalem. After his conflict with the Jews in Medina he changed to fasting on Ramadan and praying towards Mecca. During the Hajj the Pilgrim sacrifices and circles the Kabah seven times, kissing the stone Kabah. During the Hajj one needs to be in a state of ritual purity.

Jews had a requirement to attend a Pilgrimage in Jerusalem during the times of the Temple. There were three Pilgrimage holidays, but the major one was Passover. There was a need to attend the Temple ceremony, be ritually pure and prepare a sacrifice.

The similarities of the two ritual pilgrimages are remarkable. Both are seen as an inward spiritual journey. God is asked to forgive your sins – I heard a Sheik call it like being ‘born again’. One walks eight kilometers to a mountain called Arafat meant to represent where Adam and Eve came after the Garden of Eden, then to a place with three pillars meant to represent where Abraham met Satan who tried to tempt him. They throw stones. This is all meant to be a preview of the Day of Judgment.

      As Patricia Crone wrote ‘If Christianity is Judaism gone soft, Islam is Judaism restated as an Arab faith’.

Each of the religion’s claim to be final in one way or other. Although there is nothing in Judaism that claims that when God spoke to Moses He said He would not come again to speak to another – Jews assume that was the case. This despite God telling Moses a brother would come again (Deut. 18:18). Jews assume that is the messianic Prophet, no doubt a Jew. Christians assume Jesus was the brother.  Mohammad claimed to the ‘seal of Prophecy (33:40) therefore the final prophet.  Muslims assume he is the one referred to in Deuteronomy noted above.

It is actually obvious that Islam borrowed and absorbed much from Judaism’s canonized texts as well as in all likelihood parts of its Midrashim.

The Qur’an and the Hadith are the basis of Islamic culture in a way similar to the Bible and the Talmud are the basis of Jewish culture. (there is an Israeli culture developed in the last fifty years but it is marginal the vast majority of Jews and not significant even in Israel.) Islam and Judaism are different that Christianity in this way. The culture of Christianity has for a millennium been significantly influenced by non-holy  books such as the works of Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Tolstoy and others. In the medieval period philosophers such as Aquinas as a Christian and Maimonides as a Jew had significant on-going impact of their respective religions. Averroes and a Avincenna did not have such an on-going influence on Islam. These are not unrelated to the failure of secularism and modernism on Muslim countries.

Both Judaism and Islam (at least the Orthodox believers) have a religious belief that is almost inconceivable to current day even Orthodox Christians of the Western mind. Both define their religion as central to their basic identity to an extent that they are willing, at the extreme to die for it. This is true of the suicidal terrorists of Palestinians and Jews who live in intense danger in the Gaza settlements and Hebron.



There are almost one and a half billion Muslims in the world. They are a majority in 52 countries of the world from Sudan to Indonesia. They represent Allies of the West (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) and enemies (Libya and Iran). 53

      In the Arabic countries there live five million are Jews living almost exclusively in Israel and 10 million are Christians who live primarily in Egypt. Thus less than 10% are non-Muslims. Hence the context makes for a very segregated society. In Europe close to 10% of the population is non-Christian. The United States has a more than 10 % non-Christian population. In the United States close to 20% of the population’s mother tongue is not English – slightly lower percentages exist in Europe. In the Mid-East more than 95% of the population’s mother tongue is Arabic (with the exception of Iran and Turkey). Thus in the Arabic countries people are accustomed to a homogenous population with identical language and religion.

      In the United States particularly and Europe (less so) Multi-Culturalism and Multi-Identification seem an appropriate definition of those societies. There are ethnic neighborhoods – some based on religious identity and some based on national identity - some people prefer assimilation others separation. There is also a class issue – immigrants often take the lowest paying jobs. Some people choose to join the majority culture and others do not. Not joining the majority culture has a price to pay. Not speaking English is the United States is costly in terms of acceptance. Not being Christian no longer is. Women, Blacks and Jews have a serious possibility of becoming the President of the U.S. Jesse Jackson ran for the Democratic Parties nomination in 1992. Senators Lieberman and Mrs. Clinton are considered possible candidates for the Democratic Nomination for the Presidency in 2004.

      Secularism began in Europe – it was the result of the enlightenment which began in 18th century and culminated in the French Revolution and American revolution. Modernism is related to the Industrial Revolution and the growth of Scientism leading to Modern Technology.

      The enlightenment was based on the questioning of authority; both the French and American revolutions rebelled against the authority of the respective Kings ultimately rejecting their authority. Religion – the divine right of kings – was the basis of monarchal authority. In Judaism the King was never God’s messenger and his power was limited by the Prophet and the Priest. When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity the Pope and Emperor shared powers. The powers of the Holy Roman Emperor ended before the enlightenment. In Islam the Caliph was God’s messenger as well as the political ruler. While the Caliphate ended after WWI many radical Muslims (and particularly Osama bin Laden) seek its re-institution.

      The separation of Church and State was heralded as principle reform of enlightenment. Religious pluralism and religious tolerance then inevitably followed. However this is not synonymous with societies of ‘disbelief’. In fact the United States where a minimalist position towards religion persists has more people attending Church, Mosques and Synagogues on a regular basis than Catholic Italy, France or Spain. In Poland religious used their power to legitimatize the restoration movement but when they attempted to control the basis of government authority they failed.

      According to the Pew Global Attitude Report published in December 2002 59% of the population in the United States felt that religion played a very important role in their lives. In secular Western Europe approximately 25% had that belief. In the most populace Islamic countries Indonesia – 95%; Pakistan – 91%  and Bangladesh 88%.

Secularism can be defined by several characteristics – the Separation of Church and State in fact if not in theory, Meritocracy, Equality and Democracy; all of which require a liberal system of education.

Democracy by definition implies that religious believers be guaranteed freedom to worship. However this is in exchange for non-believers entitlement not to worship, thus we have separation of Church and State. This means ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars’.  This, of course is a Christian concept. Does religious freedom require religious indifference? Does this mean that the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible and the Qur’an’s requirement of justice and mercy can no longer be demand of the state? Is a leading Turkish Islamist Ali Bulac correct in calling secularism ‘ Satan imitating God’. 54

Among the eighteen countries who comprise the Mid East six are monarchies, seven dictatorships and three with one party government’s and two participatory democracies. 55 The two democracies are Israel and Turkey. If we consider the fifteen country members of the Arab League, Mauritania (a small country in northern Africa) was in 2003 ranked 74th the highest by the World Audit in terms of democracy, Egypt and Syrian were ranked 127 (as was Iran not an Arab state) and Iraq was the lowest at 148th. . 56  The first fifteen countries included the countries in the Europe Union, the United States, Australia and Canada.

Islam traditionally divides the world into the Muslim World and the non-Muslim Infidel World. Under the best of circumstances the Muslim World can only have a truce with non Muslims. Can independent non-Muslim nation states and other civilizations develop and maintain a peaceful relationship with Islam?

The separation of Church and State, a paradigm of secularity and modernity, is generally rejected by Muslims (as it is by most of Israeli Orthodox Jewry, although not by diaspora Orthodox Jewry). This separation of Church and State is possible owing to the fact that the Church has a hierarchy and therefore can be organized as a separate body. Islam (and diasporian Judaism) do not have a hierarchy and therefore cannot be organized other than by a political hierarchy.  

However this view is not totally pervasive in Islam. ‘My deep conviction is that the Prophet of Islam did not create a state. . . . I believe that Islam can survive without political power, without a state.’ 57 Abd’ el-wahab Elmessiri calls this paradigm ‘partial secularism’ and suggests that both Christian and Muslim thinkers can co-exist with this variety of secularism. It is what he calls ‘comprehensive secularism’ – ‘the separation of all values not only from the state, but also from public and private life, and from the world at large – a value-free world’; this ‘man-centered’ and ‘nature-centered’ world is to him as a Muslim unacceptable. 58 This world-view would be unacceptable to most religious thinkers.

The question at hand can be reduced to the issue of the public versus the private role of religion. The United States is in fact a Christian country, thus public institutions are closed on Christmas Day. The President rarely ends a speech without the words ‘God bless America’. In Israel however, a Jewish State, the Prime Minister rarely mentions God. In Great Britain the Queen is the ‘Defender of the Faith’. However religion in the United States and Great Britain is private. In Israel religion freedom is guaranteed and family law is controlled by each religious community.  According to Abdulaziz Sachedina, a devout Muslim Shi’ite scholar ‘[T]he categorization of religiously ordained God-human and interhuman relationships in Islamic sacred law, the Shari’a, is an explicit expression of the distinct realms of religious and temporal on earth.’ 59 Relations between God and humans are based on repentance and forgiveness. Inter-human transgressions must be redressed if violated or forgiven by the possessor of the right, if impossible to restore. Maimonides claims that on Yom Kippur the ‘Day of Atonement’ one may not ask God’s forgiveness until one has resolved inter-human issues (as do Islamic jurists 60).  Human and civil rights are crimes against religion as ‘they violate the sanctity of the dignity bestowed by God on humankind’. 61 Sachedina eloquently writes about the freedom of religion in the Qur’an. 62 A ‘fatwa’, an interdict, was issued in order to prevent Muslims from hearing him.  

Abd al-Raziq, a prominent Egyptian Islamic jurist and Sheik at Al Azhar University, wrote the following just before a ‘Congress of the Caliphate’ in 1926.  ‘Muhammad was solely an apostle. He dedicated himself to purely religious propaganda without any tendency whatever towards temporal sovereignty, since he made no appeal in favor of a government.  . .  the Prophet had neither temporal sovereignty nor government.  He established no kingdom in the political sense of the word nor anything synonymous with it.  . . . he was a prophet only, like his brother prophets who proceeded him.’ 63 Al- Raziq was dismissed from his position.

Muhammad Imara writing in the 1970’s also believed that Islam ‘as a religion has not specified a particular system of government for Muslim, for the logic of this religions suitability for all times and places requires that matters which will always be changing by the force of evolution should be left to the rational mind, to be shaped according to the public interest and within the framework of the general precepts that this religion has dictated.’ 64 Mahmoud Taha also proclaimed similar views and was executed in the Sudan in 1987.

These positions are indeed very rare among Islamicists. Imara was fired from his Juristic position and his book was condemned by al-Azhar University. However as pointed out by John Esposito (a western educated Islamic scholar at Georgetown University) Imara raised the issue of the problems of modernity and secularism in Islam earlier than anyone else.

The Qur’an states ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (2:257) and ‘I have my religion, and you have your religion (109:6). And ‘if God had wished, He would have made all humankind one community’ (11:118; 16:93; 42:8). ‘And if thy Lord had willed, whoever is in the earth would have believed, all of them, all together. Wouldst thou (O Muhammad) then constrain the people, until they are believers’? (10:99 65) “The people were one community (umma) then God sent forth the Prophets, good tidings to bear and warnings, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth, that He might decide the people touching their differences. (2:213). 66 Does this not imply the people of the world as one community, prophets coming from the different religions and books with truth? 67 Does this not imply tolerance and pluralism?

      The Qur’an, however also states ‘If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of Him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (3:85). Muhammad is reputed to have said ‘he who changes his religion must be killed’. 68 Do these imply supercessionism?

      Both positions can be found among important and classical commentaries.

In an article entitled ‘The Relation between Jews and Christians in Ecumenical Perspective D.C. Mulder wrote ‘We stated above that Jews need Christians in order to be themselves, but Christians need to process their relationship to the Jews theologically; in the same spirit it can be said that Jews and Christians do need Islam to be themselves, but Islam, as the latter religion, must determine its relation to Judaism and Christianity.’ 69

Christianity survived and adjusted to the enlightenment, secularism and modernity. Europe and the new world remained Christian. Islam has not yet adjusted to secularism and modernity and if it considers itself a failed religion it may not yet be able to reject supercessionism. Indeed these failure may be responsible for the rise of its version of fundamentalism. 70 No form of fundamentalism can tolerate diversity; yet that is one of the signs of modernism.

Unfortunately for ‘the Muslims the existence of Israel is a condemnation and a sign that the forces of darkness and immorality, of wickedness and apostasy have for reasons yet unexplained, taken the ascendancy in the world’. 71 ‘The Palestine Question is not a national issue nor is it a political issue. It is first and foremost an Islamic question’. 72 But is it? Must it be?

Modernity may not require separation of Church and State; Secularism does.

Democracy is necessary for a Modern State and requires tolerance of many beliefs, religion being one. But it does matter whether there is a State religion or not – Great Britain and Israel have state religions, America does not, all are Modern states. One of the keys to Modernism is individualism. The social norm of Islam is not, but kinship bonds.

      Secularism is a very broad term implying many things even to religious thinkers. Harvey Cox in his famous ‘The Secular City’ considers that ‘secularization is the liberation of man from religious and metaphysical tutelage the turning of his attention away from other worlds and towards this one.’ 73

Perhaps as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel noted that while ‘it is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the collapse of religion in the modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive and insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past, when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless’.   74


Fundamentalists are at war with World or a specific part of the world. Fundamentalists fight for the Rule of God, Whether they are Tamil separatists who began the era of suicide bombing, Shoko Asahara the Japanese Apocalypt who threw a gas bomb in a Japanese subway, Sikh Separatists, Hindu Nationalists, Jewish Nationalists, Arabs terrorists, Serbian Orthodox Christians or Protestant Fundamentalists. There seems to a strand of aggressive thought in all the major religions. The question does God approve of all these people killing in His name? Or all these so called religious spokesmen ‘Imagining Their Own God’?

      Fundamentalists per se are not the problem; religious violence is the problem. According to its believers religious violence is sacred violence and is a blend of sacrifice and martyrdom. The enemy is sacrificed while ones own side offers martyrs. Juergensmeyer notes that the metaphor of good and evil has been claimed by Palestinian’s, Israeli’s, Egyptian’s, Iranian’s, Sikh’s, Sinhalese and Algerian’s. 75 Many of these (although not all) have used suicide bombers violently killing men, women and children. These violent images ‘although terribly real, are then sanitized by being symbols; they are stripped of their horror by being invested with religious meaning’ almost as if they were religious rituals. 76

      The Hebrew Bible is full of religious warfare (Joshua and Judges). While the Christian Bible is not the crusades, pogroms and religious wars as well as bloody Saints and martyrs fills its history. The history of Mohammed and the early centuries of Islamic history is as bloodthirsty and its Christian counterpart. Hindu epics (the Ramayona and the Mahabharat) are full of unending violent conflicts. The symbols of the Sikh is a two edged sword. Jesus and Hussain (the founder of Shi’ism) both went to their bloody martyrdom voluntarily.

      Virtually all religions sanction violence in ‘Just Wars’. Just wars are used as a means of gaining political power. The Just War proclaimed by Rabbi Meir Kahane is precisely the same as that proclaimed by Sheik Yassin. 77



It is not unusual for a political failure to generate a theological solution. When the first Temple was destroyed Jeremiah and Ezekiel evolved two different definitions of the problem and two different policy solutions, both theological. When the Second Temple was destroyed two different solutions were proposed one by Johanan ben Zakai – withdraw into the spiritual world and one by Bar Kokhba, a violent response. When the Jews were expelled from Spain the Great Kabbalist H’Ari developed a theological and spiritual solution reverberating even today amongst religious Jews.

“Under the influence of the West, the modern concept of nationalism took root in the Arab world, assuming two different forms: local nationalism, defined by country, and pan-Arab nationalism, based on the unity of language and culture throughout the Arab world. Pan-Arab nationalism thus transcends the boundaries of specific Arab countries, holding Arab unity as its ultimate goal. Due to the close connection between Arab identity and Islam, pan-Arab nationalism had a much stronger appeal than the rival ideology of local (e.g., Egyptian) nationalism.

Secular Arab intellectuals seeking to modernize their societies were drawn toward a form of collective identity based on nationalism, rather than on religion. The conservative masses could equally well identify with pan-Arab nationalism, as it retained much of the Islamic legacy. The term umma , traditionally used in reference to the Islamic nation ( ummat al-Islam ), was adopted by Arab nationalists to refer to the Arab nation ( al-umma al-'arabiyya ). Their calls for jihad against the enemies of the Arab nation evoked the familiar calls for jihad against the infidels, as these enemies – whether Jewish, English, French, or American – were indeed infidels. Thus, pan-Arab nationalism was a suitable vehicle for both the modernizing intellectuals and for the still-religious masses.

However, for the Muslim clerics who supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, pan-Arab nationalism was an adversary, and once Nasserism and the Ba'th Party had taken hold, it became an actual enemy.

The success and influence of pan-Arabism peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. In these years, Egyptian President Gamal 'Abd al-Nasser gave the Arabs the feeling that they had regained their rightful place in world history. Although Nasser in Egypt, as well as President Hafez al-Assad in Syria, repressed the Muslim Brotherhood, the two leaders took care to display respect for Islam in public. A well-known photograph showed Nasser in the pilgrim's white robe, performing the ritual of the hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca), as befits a good Muslim.” 78

The failure of Arabic States to provide a reasonable quality of life for citizens is a major reason for the emergence of Islamic Fundamentalism. These factors include poverty, governmental illegitimacy, repression and lack of alternatives sources of opposition.

A report published in 2002 by the United Nations, written by Arab intellectuals  stated that the Arab world is rich but not developed, its economies are stagnant, illiteracy is widespread, political freedom is rare and its people, especially women are denied the capabilities and opportunities of the modern world. Arab societies are being crippled by a lack of political freedom, the repression of women and an isolation from the world of ideas that stifles creativity. The study said the Arab world needs improvements in economic, social and political institutions. It calls for the promotion of good governance by providing more opportunities and freedom and by liberating women and others in need. It underlines how far the Arab states still need to go in order to join the global information society and economy as full partners and to tackle the human and economic scourge of joblessness, which afflicts Arab countries as a group more seriously than any other developing region. And it clearly outlines the challenges for Arab states in terms of strengthening personal freedoms and boosting broad-based citizen participation in political and economic affairs.

      The existence of the State of Israel and its economic success contrasts with the failure of Arabic states. Religious and secular Arab nations give their citizens poor government and cannot compete economically, industrially and militarily. The oil wealth of the Arabian peninsula as well as Libya, Iran and Iraq is not used to raise the quality of life of their citizens. Not only did they fail to make a difference on the question of Palestine they in fact fostered world terrorism. 79  This contrast between Israeli achievements and Arab failures may account for the almost mythical power of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle and the vehemence of recent literature.

Muslims in the modern world suffer from a pervasive malaise resulting from the contrast between the Islamic belief in their God-given supremacy and the state of backwardness, poverty and impotence of the Muslim countries.






1 Piscatori, J.P., Islam in a World of Nation-States, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986) pg. 9, From a hadith quoted in Iman Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Din-Nawaki.

2 Berger, P.L., ed., The Desecularization of the World, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1999), pg. 2. .

3 Berlin, I., edited by Henry Hardy, Freedom and its Betrayal, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2002)

4 Juergensmeyer, M.,  The New Cold War  (University of California, Berkeley, 1993).

5 The Friday sermon of March 12, 2004 in the Sheikh 'Ijlin Mosque in Gaza was delivered by Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris, an employee of the Awqaf (Religious Affairs) ministry of the Palestinian Authority.

6 Hoffman, Bruce, Inside Terrorism, (Columbia University Press, New York, 1998) pg. 101

7 Hoffman, pg. 119.

8 Hoffman, pg. 112

9 Appleby, R. S., The Ambivalence of the Sacred, (Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham,

Maryland, 2000) pg. 12.

10 Tibi, Bassam, The Challenge of Fundamentalism, (University of California, Berkeley, 1998)

11 Schwartz, Stephen, The Two Faces of Islam, (Doubleday, N.Y., 2002) pg. 15.

12 James Kugal, Two Introductions to Midrash, Prooftexts 3, :pg. 136-137, quoted in Davis, Exum, Signs, pg. 232-.

13 Sura 29:48. Since Muhammad was a successful businessman, the illiterate, may mean composing a poetic piece of theology. It is to attest to the God-writing and not human writing of the Qur’an. Jews and Christians are referred to in the Qur’an as ‘People of the Book’ and the Qur’an was intended to allow the followers of Muhammad becoming ‘People of the Book, a God written book.

14 The Dead Sea Scrolls have numerous versions of the Tnakh differing from the current canonized version.

15 Haddad, Y.Y., Contemporary Islam and the Challenge of History, (SUNY, Albany, 1982) pg. 53.

16 Haddad, Contemporary, pgs. 46-53.

17 Stowasser, B.F., Women in the Qur’an, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994) pg. 45-47

18 Jansen, Johannes, The Dual Nature of Islamic Fundamentalism (Cornell University Press, Ithica, 1997) pg. 111.

19 Davidson, L., Islamic Fundamentalism, (Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1998) pg. 73-74.

20 Nosse, Andrea, The Ideology of Hamas, pg. 106,  in Nettler, R.L., Studies In Muslim-Jewish Relations, (Harwood Academic Publishers, Oxford, 1993).

21 Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury in a coference in Rome in March 2004.

22 Shabbir Akhtar, ‘Critical Qur’anic Scholarship and Theological Puzzle, pg 127, in Vroom, H.D. and Gort, J.D., Holy Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1997).

23 BT Sanhedrin 105a and Avodah Zarah 64b.

24 BT Sanhedrin 59a.

25 The Qur’anic sura (2:95,110-112) which states that Jews believe that only a Jew goes to Heaven is simply wrong,

26 Mishnah Torah Melkhim 8:11.

27 Iggrot Rayah, I,89, quoted by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in ‘A Clash of Civilization, pg. 21, The chief Rabbi’s Website.

28 BT Berakhot 58a.

29  2:62, 2: 213, 2:257; 6:88; 10:99; 11:118; 16:93; 42:8; 109:1-6.

30 While many quotes can be found to demonstrate this some can be found who deny that (2:62). Mcauliffe claims that believing that in Muhammad as the seal of the Prophets is required for salvation. J.D. Mcauliffe, Qur’anic Christians: An Analysis of Classical and Modern Exegesis (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991) pg. 287-290.

31 Underline added.

32 In each religion there are many sects each of whom claim a supercessionist right over all others. I Islam there are four schools of Sunni legal schools as well as Wahabis and Talibans (further apart are Druse and Bahais), in Christianity there are the Catholics, the Orthodox (Greek, Jerusalem and Russian)  Protestant (with its various different sects) and in Judaism there are Orthodox legalisr (Lithuanians) numerous Hasidic sects, Sephardim, Kabbalists, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionists and not loner considered Jews are the Samaritans and Karaites.

33 The Qur’an recognizes the original Jewish chosen-ness, but states that the Jews lost it for their wickedness. While Jewish chosen-ness is clear, the Jewish prophets do note that God ‘blessed Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage (Is. 19:25).

34 Translated by Stephen Mitchell, The book of Job, (Harper, N.Y.,1987)  pgs. 79-86.

35 say 'speak to us yourself and we will obey; but do not let God speak to us, or we shall die' (Ex. 20:16).

36 Shaykh Sa’ad (d. 1292) quoted in Sachedina, Ad., The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001) pg. xi.

37 Hebron in Arabic is called ‘al Khalil’ the word used for Abraham being God’s friend.

38 Khalidi, W., Islam, the West and Jerusalem, (Center for Contemporaneous Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 1996) pgs. 4-7.

39 Confrontation, pg. 72

40 Maimonides, Responsa, 488, quoted by Sacks, Clash, pg.26.

41 Maimonides, Responsa, 149, quoted by Sacks, Clash, pg. 26.

42 Mishnah Torah, Melakhim 11.

43 Abarbanel, Commentary to Deut. 4, quoted by sacks, Clash, pg. 32.

44 Rabbi Yaacov Emden, Commentary to Avot 4:13.

45 Rabbi Yaakov Emden, Seder Olam Rabbah ve-Zura, Appendix, Translated by H. Falk, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 19:1 (Winter 1982) pg. 105-111.

46 Rabbi Samson, Raphael Hirsch, The Collected Writings, volume VII, pg. 225.

47 Translated by Haddad, Contemporary, pg. xi.

48 Akhtar, Shabbir, The Final Imperative: An Islamic Theology of Liberation, (Bellow Publishing, London, 1991) pg. 29.

49 Gokalp, Z., Turkish Nationalism and Western Civilization, (London, 1959) pg. 214.

50 Similar is some ways to Maimonides who was familiar with both of these Islamic scholars. These Muslim philosophers may have had more effect of St. Thomas Aquinas that on Islam.

51 More recently Islamic thinkers have begun this again with Fakhr al-Din al Razi. See David Burrell, Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions (University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame Indiana, 1993) pg. 51.

52 A virgin birth is acceptable to the Qur’an, after all God can choose to allow a virgin to give birth without sexual relations as he can choose to allow a barren post-menopausal woman  of 90 years to give birth.  

53 Esposito, J., Political  Islam (UASR, Ammandale Virginia, 1995) pg. 1

54 John Keane in ‘The Limits Of Secularism, from Esposito, J.J. and Tamini, A., eds., Islam and Secularism in the Middle East, (Hurst & Co., London, 2000), pg. 36.

55 Esposito, Political, pg. 4


57 Hasan al ‘Askari, Verse et Controverse: Les  Musulmans, (Paris, 1971) pg. 132-133, quoted and translated by Cragg, Kenneth, Muhammad And The Christian, (Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1984) pg. 49

58 Abdelwahab Elmessiri, ‘Secularism, Immanence And Deconstruction, in Esposito and Tamimi, Islam, pg. 69-80.

59 Sachedina, A., The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism, pg. 5.

60 Sachedina, Islamic Roots, pg. 111.

61 Sachedina, Islamic Roots, pg. 111.

62 Sachedian, Islamic Roots, pgs. 83-97.

63 Quoted in Esposito, Islam and Politics, pg. 69. It should be noted that Raziq later rejected this idea.

64 Ayubi, pg. 64.

65 Translated by Sachedina, Islamic Roots, pg. 3.

66 Translated by Sachedina, Islamic Roots, pg. 22..

67 See also 21:92; 49:14.

68 Little, D., Kelsey, J., and Sachedina, A.A.,  Human Rights and the Conflict of Cultures (University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, 1988) pg. 7.

69 Bakker, J.T. and D.C. Mulder, Ein bron, twee stromen (Zoetermeer, 1994) pgs. 166-167, quoted by Anton Wessels, in Vroom, H.M., Gort, J.D. , Holy Scriptures in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1997) pg. 17.

70 Of course all of the monotheistic religions have forms of fundamentalism, see the Jewish version in the author’s article on Jewish Fundamentalism, Ateek, N. and Prior, M., eds. Holy Land, Hollow Jubilee, Sabeel Liberation Theology Center, Bethlehem, Israel, 1999.

71 Haddah, Contemporary, pg. 34.

72 Haddad, pg. 45.

73 Cox, H., The Secular City, (Macmillan, N.Y., 1966) pg. 15.

74 Heschel, A.J., God in Search of Man, (  )  opening paragraphs

75 Juergensmeyer, Mark, The New Cold War?, (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1993) pg. 156.

76 Juergensmeyer, Cold War, pg. 156.

77 Juergensmeyer, Cold War, pgs. 165-166.

78 Menaham Milson, MEMRI, Sept. 15, 2004, Special Report 34.

79 Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen terrorists who hijacked the four planes that crashed into the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania came from Saudi Arabia, an Islamic fundamentalist state.