Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Selected Excerpts from Rabbi Ben Abrahamson’s Response to a Question related to Orthodox Judaism and Islam:

… I am an orthodox Jew, and my views are that of an orthodox Jew. I write from a historical perspective, not a theological one. I do not debate, but share my attempts to reconstruct how a 7th century Jew would have understood Islam, the Prophet (pbuh), and the context of God's message in the Qur'an. ….

…  while I generally stress the commonalities of Islam and Judaism, and where the literature of one can help throw light, context and understanding on the teachings of the other, what you say directly derives from a difference between Islam and Judaism.

Historically speaking, it is my opinion that starting around the time of Ibn Hazm and the great debates between Islam and Christianity, Islam began to view itself as the only righteous path and all others were corrupted and abrogated. This indeed is a Christian teaching about Judaism, and Ibn Hazm used this same argument against Christianity. The concept of abrogation was for the first time applied not only to Judaism and Christianity, even to the Qur'an itself. Ayat such as Surat Al-Baqara 2,62 had to be abrogated in favor of other ayat like Surat Al-Emran 3,85. Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kathir, followed Ibn Hazm on these points.

However, Judaism never underwent this change. It has from the beginning stressed that there is only one proper religion for all mankind, Noahism. The differences in religion are due to simultaneous, multiple covenants. In this sense, Muslims who follow their religion properly have been ruled by our sages to following a perfect faith, complete in every way, guaranteed a portion in the world to come. In this sense proper Muslims and Jews are following the same religion with different customs. We believe that God will, in the end, explain our differences.

Of course Judaism is strongly against mixing customs. One cannot, and is in fact forbidden, to keep multiple covenants (shari'at) at the same time. This does not mean that Judaism has taught there is no value in one covenant for another faith community. Indeed Rabbi Benamozegh, (of whose school of thought I follow), explained that Judaism views other proper religions like workers building a great palace. An electrician, cannot and should not, interfere with the bricklayers. And the bricklayers, cannot and should not interfere with the architects. But all are needed to create the palace, and without the contribution of each one it would be impossible to complete the work.

This is the view of Talmudic Judaism. This is not the view of Islam at least since Ibn Hazm. As a Rabbinical historian, I believe great value can be obtained by cross-referencing authentic scriptural and historical traditions. …