Friday, March 27, 2009

Created in the image of God

I would consider myself someone who believes in God. A monotheist. But my idea of God is sometimes so different than what I feel other monotheists believe. I don't know how to imagine God, but I see "It" as a sort of energy. I know the characteristics that God/Allah is supposed to have (generally) in Islam and I'm trying to figure out where I stand on that. I don't have any strong feelings about God. I don't have any strong feelings that there is only one God just because I am so completely unable to even imagine God. I guess that is the beauty of it. It is impossible to fully understand, comprehend or imagine. We have clues, but putting them together... it's still not something we can fully imagine. There's so much unknown, it leaves a lot to faith. I'm not that strong with faith. I'm glad to be this way though. There are some things I feel I know, and I just want to build on that. I fear blind faith too much.

Back to the idea of God: A lot of people imagine a throne and some sort of masculine "form". I don't. I definitely don't believe God has a physical throne and I feel weird about that idea, but I guess a throne is a nice symbol of majesty. And I see God as asexual. There's this idea in Christianity that we are created in God's image. I only "buy it" in the sense that God has unmeasurable "intelligence". And I think that our minds are the thing that we are given that make us in that tiny way, like God, but again, I don't like the idea of being in God's image that much and I think it misleads people.

I remember in Catholic classes in elementary school, we were made to draw Jesus and God, and we would draw him as an older version of what we pictured Jesus looking like. Some old man sitting on a throne with a beard wearing a robe. And that was OK!! It was OK to make God seem like one of us. Just a somehow "magical" human. Almost like Santa, really! Insane, when I think about it! I know the way more educated Christians think of God and about us being made in God's image is not like what I just described, but it's probably not so unlike it either. I don't fully know where Islam stands on this, but I *know* it's way clearer that God is nothing like human. We are not to try to draw/paint God and I think that prohibition is necessary. God is not human and is not depictable, no matter how we try. Not being allowed to draw prophets though, in particular Muhammad for Muslims, is a prohibition I can understand just as a way to avoid worshipping these images, but I fear that this prohibition is bordering on worship in and of itself. God is undrawable. Muhammad is not (even though we don't know what he looks like, not having seen him, there are descriptions, etc). Having the same prohibition for both makes them too alike and I find this wrong in some ways.

Anyone have something I could read about Islam's position on being created in the image of God? And the Christian position? I should mention that I am not very interested in reading about depicting the prophet and all that so don't send me to an article about it please!

Funny end note: This post was originally supposed to be me throwing ideas around about atheism, monotheism and polytheism, and how unclear I feel sometimes about which category I fall under, despite how clear and simple their definitions are. And it has NOTHING to do with this in the end! Maybe for a future post I will get it together!

23 Comentários:

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hehe I still can't stop thinking about God as this old bearded man in a throne in the sky cause that's all I saw growing up!! Especially in the media, they really project this image of God a lot, and even though I'm a Muslim, it's hard for me to stop seeing it in my head.

About the Prophet being depicted in photos, people have become really fanatic about it, like you said. We have descriptions of what he looked like etc, and so there's no need to go crazy over photographs of him (as I've seen people do).

hadah said...

hi there, aactually when u said u cant imagine god, then, u are at the right path. in actual fact, we cant imagine Allah bcos ALLAH is not the same as his creations such as us human beings, the planets animals and all the things that we see around us. even Allah mentioned in the Quran, 'is it the same for a creator and the creations'. once i went to the mosque bout this topic about ALLAH, he said, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said that anything that u try to imagine hows Allah looks like, it is actually false. actually it is a very long subject to tak about. but we shud remember that ALLAH exists but does not need places and are not physically shape like us his creations. we as human beings cant imagine and will never will imagine or figuring out how Allah looks like coz our mind is very limited. later in JANNAH, we will see ALLAH in a unique way but not how we see everything now.

Candice said...

Thanks for your comments!

Blue said...

Candice, you post pretty much described exactly how I feel about God. I'm just as lost as you are. I, too, consider myself a monothiest; mainly because I think that if there is an entity governing the universe, it's gotta be a singular entity with power beyond what anyone can imagine rather than a panel of smaller gods.

I think my main problem is with "organized religion", whether it's Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. Every religion has it's own set of principles governing how people should live, which is something that I don't have a problem with. But the main reason I'm skeptical is that they have VERY different views on the after-life, which, if you think about it, is the main reason why we need religion. We don't need religion to know what's right and wrong. Stealing is wrong, being good to your neighbour is right. These are universal values. But if you ask a follower of any religion this simple question: If someone lives his life exactly like you do, and breaks no laws of your religion, but is not a follower of your religion, does he go to heaven or does he go to hell? The answer they'll all give you is hell. This is the part the just turns me off.

I think the way Muslims view God is the most believable. If you understand the meaning of his 99 names you pretty much get a sense of what he is, no physically, but spiritually.

However, Muslims have fallen in the same pattern of all Abrahamic religions of trivializing what God is all about. Not what he looks like, but what he is. So what you get at the end is fingerpointing, every group saying that they got it right and everybody else got it wrong. you know what that means? If you're a Muslim, it means that 5 billion of the people living today are going to hell, the same if you're a Christian, and a lot more if you follow any other religion, which btw would contradict what all these religions preach, which is that most human beings are good. Now how can they be good if 5/6 of them are in hell?! And even if you're in that 1/6 who are Muslims, strict Muslims will tell you that Muhammad said that most of his Ummah are in hell?! Apparently hell will be a very crowded place in the after-life.

But I don't think atheists are any better. It defies logic to think that all this universe just happened without calculation. They are the most wrong if you ask me. Unfortunately, the weeknesses in all other religions make the atheist point of view sound appealling.

Can we just agree that if people follow religions other thatn you're own doesn't mean they're doomed? I think that's a start. This way you'll focus on what matters, which is how your treat your fellow human. I'm sure that God, whatever you think about him, would appreciate that.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hey Blue, nice post. I agree that this idea of organized religion is problematic, and it takes emphasis away from the personal relationship between God and an individual.

I've heard many Muslims that are more open-minded say that the Qur'an does not necessarily say that Christians and Jews are going to hell. It talks very positively about "people of the book" and I personally think that they're not all going to end up in hell. There are many Christians, Jews, and people of other religions who are better people than some Muslims.

Blue said...

I agree with you that the Quran speaks positively about "people of the book", but it also says that whoever doesn't acknowledge that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet is not going to paradise, because by that they have accepted a religion other than Islam. It is a known fact that when Jews were being persecuted throughout Europe they found a safe haven in Andalusia, and when the Spanish Reconquista happened Muslims and Jews were given a choice between converting to Christianity or leaving their homes.

So yes, Islam does treat other religions well, but it still says that they are doomed, even if they are good people.

And yes, there are many Christians and Jews who are better people that Muslims, even better than practicing Muslims, which is why I have this dilemma.

Sarah said...

Blue, your comment really resonated with me. It's really difficult to work out what's what. There is much to like in many religions - there is much that makes sense - so how can you pick one? It wouldn't be so bad if it was possible to think that they are all expressions of the one truth. But it's difficult to find support for this view in any religion - they all profess to be the one true way to heaven. This really puts me off as you say, but also, it scares me because what if there is one way to heaven, despite how unfair that would seem? :-S

hadah said...

sarah, i dont know what are you. a christian or muslim or anything? coz from what you said, all religion makes sense? thats not true. islam is the only true religion coz first we never see ALLAH as a form of idols that hav hands or feets ar heads and ect. we cannot imagine ALLAH coz our minds are only limited to certain things. but religion such as hinduism and buddhism worship idols whom they imagine to hav many heads and hands.for christianity, they misunderstood something coz they thought that it was jesus who was at the cross. but in actual fact as mention in the Quran, ALLAH SAID THAT he brought Jesus to heaven and changed the other men to look exactly like Jesus. by the way, how can we humans worship another human being? for Muslims, Jesus is our prophet who was created in Mary s womb without the presence of a father. that shows how great Allah is and he appointed Jesus to spread the message to worship Allah not him. but theres a mistake for the christian thinking that Jesus is god??

Sarah said...

hadah, Muhammad didn't just call for a return to pure monotheistic worship... he started a whole new religion. With rules that never previously applied to Jews and Christians. Why would God change the rules in the 7th century CE? That doesn't make sense to me.

Candice said...

Blue, thank you for your comments. I most definitely don't believe that people are going to Hell if they're not Muslim. I'm not fully sure about what I believe about Heaven and Hell, but I wrote a couple entries about it some time ago. And I still feel the same as I did then.

I think that people are judged first on how they followed what we know is truth, which is the instinct of right and wrong that we all have. People who follow this are followers of God, I think. I think people of all religions or no religion could go to heaven. The thing I'm mostly trying to figure out is if there's a clearer truth out there for me to follow (like if the Qur'an is from God).

hadah said...

to sarah, i think you are quite mmixed up. Prophet Muhammad did not start a nem religion. you can read this in the quran that Allah mentioned that Muhammad did not even know or hoped that the Quran was sent doen to him but he was selected to be the messenger of Allah. please dont try to put false info. u dont know about Islam, i think we better keep quiet. if you wanna a better explanation, it is best to approach the muslim scholars or ustad about this. we muslims believe in 4 holy books, Zabur, Taurat, Injil and the last is Quran who was sent to Muhammad. sorry to say but, please you are just assuming. and thats not true.

Sarah said...

Hadah, sorry to have offended you although I can't really see what I said that was so offensive. So if I say it was God that started the new religion and not Muhammad - are you more comfortable with that? I am sad that you chose to criticise my way of expressing what I have understood, rather than deal with my question. I am not a Muslim to be able to say it all perfectly as you think is right. I really am keen to learn and not looking for an argument. However, I may have overstayed my welcome on Candice's blog so let's leave it at that. Sorry for any offense.

Blue said...

Hadah, your argument is a Muslim's argument for Islam, which is very convincing if you're addressing Muslims, but not very convincing if your audience is non-Muslim.

How do you *know* that the Quran is from God? How do you really? You believe it's from God because it *says* it's from God, but you don't really know that for a fact. I'm not saying only Islam has this problem. Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God and he IS God. If that's not a contradiction I don't know what is, yet it's a contradiction that makes sense to them. Jews claim to be God's chosen people; chosen because only they can bear the burden of upholding his divine laws. What makes them so darn special? Nothing, but that contradiction doesn't bother them.

You can't *prove* a religion is true. All religions are theories that can neither be proved nor disproved. In your reply to Sarah you write with absolute conviction that the Quran was sent from Allah to Muhammad, but you can't prove it can you? Please don't tell me you'll prove it by reciting verses from the Quran, because that means you are way too deep in your belief to question anything it says. Sarah's point is extremely valid here. Muhammad said this Quran is from Allah, some people believed him, some didn't. I don't know if it's the truth or not, and neither do you.

You are convinced the Quran is true because it gives you a description of God that you accept. That's what all religions are about. Christians feel better about their description as do Jews, Hindus, Buddhists etc.

Candice said...

Blue, thank you for that comment defending Sarah. I will just ditto that.

Sarah, please make sure to continue visiting my blog. I love what you bring to my comments section.

Hadah, I love any new person commenting on my blog, but the last two comments are what I try to avoid on here. People talking as though what they believe is pure fact and not just their personal beliefs. As Blue said, your comments suppose that the Qur'an is a revelation from God, something that is not fact, just your personal belief as a Muslim.

And about Islam being an all-new religion, I can understand you seeing it as a restoration of what was sent before, making it the same religion, but that's a technicality and it's obvious that what Christianity and Judaism are right now is not the same religion as Islam.

hadah said...

ok to sarah, im really sorry to hurt you. adn to candice, tis is ur blog so i know tat i shudnt be commenting emotionally ans im sorry too also to blue. so you are saying that Quran is written by Muhammad and not divine,you want proves stating that Quran is actually the word of god right, there is. that is what happening in tis world now where the scientist who examined Quran ldfinding it to be a divine coz Muhammad being illiterate, cant write nor read could come up with such accurate teories about science and im not saying Quran is abook of science but it is mentioned in the Quran some verses about seeing nd exploring the earth and the thing around us. ok, tis gonna be a long post so i suggest u to for better and more explanation about islam and Quran. again im sorry.

khany said...

muslims make no claims about knowledge of god's essence. god is unlike any of his creation.
... there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).

and there is nothing that could be compared with Him.

clearly then god is neither "an old man" nor a form of "energy", for both these entities are part of the creation. the qur'an describes him:
He is the First as well as the Last, the Manifest as well as the Hidden, and He has knowledge of everything.

god is 'the manifest' meaning that of all things that make themselves manifest in this world god is the most manifest. any creation is a proof of its creator. therefore everything in creation, the universe, points to god and his existence.

and yet god is 'the hidden'. none has the ability to comprehend god's essence. our senses do not perceive him and our imagination cannot attain to his reality.

muslims say of god only that which he has revealed of himself, e.g. his names and attributes mentioned in the revelation. about everything else ascribed to god we say:
Glorified be He and High Exalted above (all) that they ascribe (unto Him).

you might benefit from listening to this dialogue. (i listened to it a while a go and i hope it is sufficiently relevant).

you asked about the concept of man being created in god's image in islam.
in the qur'an, upon the creation of adam, god says to the angels:
"When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in prostration unto him."

the expression "breathed into him my spirit" is understood to mean that the characteristics of life, love, mercy, knowledge, power, will, etc. are a reflection of divine attributes in man. it is by virtue of these attributes that man is elevated to the status of god's vicegerent on earth. however, reflecting a part of god's attributes does not make one in any measure 'divine'. rather these characteristics are signs that point to the creator, e.g.

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.

finally, regarding the issue of 'salvific exclusivity' the qur'an has the following to state:
And they say: "None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian." Those are their (vain) desires. Say: "Produce your proof if ye are truthful."
Nay,-whoever submits His whole self to Allah and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

there are several other verses in the same vein.
equally clearly, god has promised, that those who "knowingly" oppose the prophets and the truth brought by them are doomed. judgment lies with god alone. and he says:
Lo! Allah forgiveth not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgiveth (all) save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribeth partners to Allah, he hath indeed invented a tremendous sin.

there is a distinction between an unbeliever and a disbeliever. judgment you can find an excellent short discussion here.

hadah said...

to blue
actually blue, what im gonna say is totally different from this topic but it is about the few previous topics which is about, 'afraid of saying' i actually read ur comment about why Prophet Muhammad married to Aisyah. dear Blue, i have the answer and this answer is not created by me nor do i invent the answer. i read this in one of my islamic books. in actual fact, it is not prophet Muhammad wh are going crazy about Aisyah the 9 yr old girl but it is Aisyah's father, Abu Bakar who recommend and wanted his beloved companion, prophet Muhammad to be his son-in-law and of course being Aisyah's husband. he offered prophet Muhammad to marry her daughter. now, that s answer ur question. now dont u ever dare say that prohet Muhammad cant control his desires or lust. thats absolutely not true. it doesnt make sense for a nobel man like Muhammad behaves like a man full of lust. if he is so, he would not marry the other several wives who are really old whose husbands died during the war and to take care of them prophet Muhammad willing to marry them despite their old age and unattractiveness. but what happens today where the muslims claims to follow prophet Muhammad in marrying more than 1, actually they dont follow what has been done by prophet Muhammad bcos all the woman who they are going to marry are not old but are still young, attractive and still a virgin. they wouldnt want or willing to marry an 80 yr old woman. fyi, one of prophet Muhammad wives is 80 yr old. see that. so dont ever throw him statement that he is full of lust. so please dont find fault with my beloved prophet Muhammad bcos he is the most noble man on earth. you might smirk but thats the truth. i think you better read his deeds to the non muslims and for your info, theres this one english man who publish a book about the top 100 most influential man in this world and guess what? prophet Muhammad ranked the 1 in the list. FIRST. see how influential he is. i dont knw why you always trying ti find fault in the Quran and Islam. and i waiting to say this. Jesus whom you regard as god is actually our prophet before Muhammad. actually, the old testament is the right one or known as Injil. in it, it is stated that after Jesus will comes the last prophet Muhammad. i want to make it clear once again that it is Allah who created Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary and them appointed him as the messenger to the people of Israel.not regard him as god. thats the biggest mistake ever.

Candice said...

Hadah, I think you mean Aisha (not Asiyah). And this all might have been better said by posting a link to an article about Aisha and why he married her as a child.

About being the most influencial person, the choice had nothing to do with his integrity as a person. Here is an article stating why he was chosen.

And I don't know much about Blue, but I got the impression that he or she knew about Islam pretty well... And that he or she was NOT Christian...

Blue said...

Hadah, I don't know why you assumed I'm a Christian. I'm not. Never have been.

Your explanation of Muhammad's marriage to Aisha is the explanation I get from all Muslims, but it doesn't make any sense. You say Abu Bakr offered, but Muhammad could have said "no, that's not right". What you're saying is that marrying a 9 year old is okay as long as her father has no problem with it. That's BS (pardon my language).

And yes, Muhammad WAS influential. He created a strong nation from practiacally nothing. But you know what? Joseph Stalin is responsible for the death of 30 million of his own people. Is that good? Hell no. Is it influential? Absolutely. So influencial does not necessarily mean good.

You are claiming the Bible predicted Muhammad's prophecy and that it was altered. You may be right, but let me ask you this:
In the Quran God says that he preserved the Quran from alteration, why didn't he do that to the Torah and the New Testament?

Dear Hadah, I'm not questioning your beliefs, all I'm trying to show you is that you are cherry-picking your facts, believing in those that make sense to you and questioning the authenticity of those that don't or even questioning the questioner's motives or understandings when they don't exactly agree with yours.

All your explanations so far are nothing but THEORIES. They may be right and they may be wrong. They can't be proved nor disproved. You believe them whole-heartedly, and that's your prerogative. The only differennce between you and I is that I choose to question everything that I read, you choose to consider them solid facts.

On a final note, you seem to take issue with Christians, and they will find that highly offensive, just like you found it offensive when I questioned Muhammad's motives in marrying Aisha. You are calling their belief that Jesus is God a mistake, which is basically the cornerstone of their faith. You, on the other hand, didn't even like it when I said that Muhammad's marriage to a 9 year old is wrong, which by comparison to what you said about Christianity is pretty trivial since approving of Aisha's marriage is hardly a pillar of Islam.

Dear Hadah, all I'm really trying to do is let you take a good look at yourself in the mirror. You are not any different from Christians or Jews or Hindus or any blind follower of any religion. You are not worse that any of them, but you are not any better either.

hadah said...

i dont know what else to say to you. look, i am not an expert in Islam so i cant givu the best explanation to you becos as i said earlier that i am not an expert in this matter. when you wanna make any opinion about Islam you cant just merely look at one glance. there is always more explanation after it. so if you have so much doubts about Islam, about the truthness of the holy Quran, questioning the nobility about prophet Muhammad, dont ask the normal people like us. you should seek the scholars and the experts about Islam then they will provide you the valid information and proofs that you are looking for. you dont assume that even though prophet Muhammad married Aisya who was just 9 yrs old, you think that prophet Muhammad is a weird or bad man. of course he is not the same as the other man in the world cos he is a prophet. i think the best way is to ask the expert. about why the Torah and the new Testament, i cant give you the answer cos ike i said earlier, this is not a trivial matter and i am scared what i say will be wrong or in accurate. but i just wanna ask u this, have u ever wondered why do the scientist convert to Islam? and one of them is Muraice Bucail. when he examined the Quran, he actually wanted to find faults or errors in the Quran but in the end, he was fascinated about the Quran due to many scientific evidence in it and now he is officially a muslim. actually they are a lot more scientist who converted to Islam. now, they are the intelligents about science and yet they can finally find the truth which is ISLAM. btw, what are you? atheist? then if you are, so tell me do you occur by chance? all of a sudden you appear in ur mother s womb...

Blue said...

No I'm not an athiest either. In fact, I wrote in an earlier post that I think athiests are more dellusional than theists.

I'm just a guy trying to find the truth in the middle of all the hatred and bigotry displayed by followers of ALL religions.

As for conversions, people convert to and from religions all the time. There are a lot less people converting from Islam for one simple reason. Tell me Hadah, what will happen to any Muslim who converts? Yup, you're right, HE WILL GET KILLED.

KILLED!!! And by the way, you can't attribute this to bad Muslims or to my "shallow" understanding of Islam. Muslims can't convert, can they?

Actually they can, but the scholars you're asking me to go to are the biggest bigots of all. When Islam started, conversion of its followers would have rocked the very foundation of the nation Muhammad was trying to build, and all of the Muslims who lived back then were converts to Islam themselves, not like the overwhelming majority of Muslims living today who were born to Muslims parents. If those who did not choose Islam, even if they were raised Muslim, conversion should be allowed.

See? This is a situation where I think Islam is right and Muslims are wrong. I'm not on a personal vendetta against Islam. I'm simply looking for the truth. Just like Candice is.

Candice said...

Thanks for keeping my blog alive while I was unable to be here, guys!

Blue, thanks for bringing your point of view to my comments section. We definitely agree on a lot of things. We seem to be on the same path right now anyway.

Hadah, I hope you try to understand our points of view. I can see that it's hard for you to even imagine a person who thinks like Blue. Even though there was nothing said about Christianity, you assumed he or she was a Christian, just for having an issue with Islam. And after learning that he or she is not Christian, you came to the conclusion that he or she had to be atheist! There are really all sorts of people beliving all sorts of things out there! They're not all Mustlim, Christian, Jew or atheist. Anyway, please keep reading my blog and commenting, I'm sure we'll all learn something. :)

hadah said...

ok.i just dont understand what actually makes you so doubtful about Islam? if you are judging Islam just by looking at the Muslims, then i think you are wrong. not all Muslims are really the practicing muslims. there are good and there are bad. just like the other religions. there are bad people in every religions. Islam is great but some of the muslims behaviour are just tarnishing the good name of ISLAM. And what did u say again? the scholars are bigot??excuse me mind ur language. you hav no right to say that let alone judge them. and for the conversion, yup we cannot convert. why should we when the religion we are holding on to is the truth. those who convert just lose faith in Islam and find it hard to follow the Islamic rules. about those being killed, im not sure tat they were killed but the fact is Allah never said that it is compulsory to kill them. Allah is the most loving and will give them chance to repent. you have doubts about Islam and Quran?

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