Thursday, February 18, 2016

Islam - A religion of works - Sacred months

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Most religions have their sacred days, times, and months; times of celebration, remembrance, and, for some, times of religious obligation. Muhammad believed that these times were fixed by the command of God and not subject to change or alternation. Muhammad pronounced this judgment on those who felt otherwise.
"The month postponed [to carry over a sacred month to another] is an increase of [growth in] unbelief whereby the unbelievers go astray; one year they make it profane [forbid it], and hallow [allow] it another, to agree with the number that God has hallowed, and so profane what God has hallowed." (Koran 9:37)
This is most likely an indictment against Christians of his day and their celebration of Easter for the day of its celebration varied from year to year and was not always in the same calendar month as it was the previous year.

Muhammad claimed that there were four sacred months set by God.
"The number of the months, with God, is twelve in the Book of God, [since] the day that He created the heavens and the earth; four of them are sacred. That is the right religion. So wrong not each other during them." (Koran 9:36)
The most holy of all the months was the month of Ramadan in which fasting was added to its observance. This month was special because it was the month in which Muhammad received his first revelation and it was the beginning of the giving of the Koran.
"the month of Ramadan, wherein the Koran was sent down to be a guidance to the people, and as clear signs of the Guidance and the Salvation. So let those of you, who are present at the month, fast it" (Koran 2:181)
Muhammad calls the keeping of sacred months "right religion" but Paul calls it the elemental principals, or rudimentary teachings, of the world rather than being true religion towards God. Paul warns us "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8) and he reminds us that we "have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world" (Colossians 2:20) including the keeping of months and sacred fasts. Further more, Jams teaches us that true religion is not in keeping months and other religious duties but rather, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27) The mere keeping of months and times of fasting cannot make our religion pure and undefiled.

There was a time when God did set times and dates to teach the nation of Israel to distinguish between holy and common, sacred and secular. For example, in the establishment of the Sabbath God taught mankind to rest even as God rested on the seventh day. However, with the coming of Christ those old shadows of religion have passed away and now all is holy and sacred. The writer of Hebrews tells us, "For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: 'and God rested on the seventh day from all His works'" (Hebrews 4:4) Here God establishes the seventh day, the Sabbath, as a holy day of rest. However, with the coming of a new covenant, He establishes a new day as being holy, "He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'" (Hebrews 4:7) Then, only one day was holy, now all days are holy. Then we were obligated to keep one day a week, now we are called to keep every day and to live holy and pious before God everyday and at all times. We no longer need to observe days and months for everyday is a Sabbath and every day is a sacred day before God. Days and months are but shadows of what was to come, but now we have the fullness. Therefore, what need have we to return to shadows again?

More to come...
David Robison

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