“No one speaks for God—not even the prophets (who speak about God). There are those who will call it apology, but that is hardly a bad thing. An apology is a defense, and there is no higher calling than to defend one’s faith, especially from ignorance and hate, and thus to help shape the story of that faith, a story which, in this case, began fourteen centuries ago, at the end of the sixth century C.E., in the sacred city of Mecca, the land that gave birth to Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Abd al-Muttalib: the Prophet and Messenger of God. May peace and blessings be upon him.”
― from “No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam”
So – according to this author, “no one speaks for God – not even the prophets (who speak about God).”
And yet, also according to this author, Muhammad is “the Prophet and Messenger of God”.
Considering that Islam teaches that Jesus us a prophet, and certainly not the Son of God, this puts Muhammad in a most unique position. Yes, I realize “most unique” is redundant – but I use it to show just how “special” the author thinks Muhammad is. According to him, Muhammad is the only one who fills the dual role of being both a prophet and a messenger of God. Further – these statements would make him the only messenger of God.
To try to put that statement into perspective, especially as it relates to differences between Christianity and Islam, here’s another excerpt from the book –
“Still, we must never forget that as indispensable and historically valuable as the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet may be, they are nevertheless grounded in mythology. It is a shame that this word, myth, which originally signified nothing more than stories of the supernatural, has come to be regarded as synonymous with falsehood, when in fact myths are always true. By their very nature, myths inhere both legitimacy and credibility. Whatever truths they convey have little to do with historical fact. To ask whether Moses actually parted the Red Sea, or whether Jesus truly raised Lazarus from the dead, or whether the word of God indeed poured through the lips of Muhammad, is to ask irrelevant questions. The only question that matters with regard to a religion and its mythology is “What do these stories mean?”” “No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” by Reza Aslan
So – myths are always true – they have little to do with historical fact – asking whether the events described are real or not is to ask irrelevant questions – and the only thing that matters is ‘what do these stories mean’.
Not my words – they are straight from the book.
There’s more –
“Religion, it must be understood, is not faith. Religion is the story of faith. It is an institutionalized system of symbols and metaphors (read rituals and myths) that provides a common language with which a community of faith can share with each other their numinous encounter with the Divine Presence. Religion is concerned not with genuine history, but with sacred history, which does not course through time like a river. Rather, sacred history is like a hallowed tree whose roots dig deep into primordial time and whose branches weave in and out of genuine history with little concern for the boundaries of space and time. Indeed, it is precisely at those moments when sacred and genuine history collide that religions are born. The clash of monotheisms occurs when faith, which is mysterious and ineffable and which eschews all categorizations, becomes entangled in the gnarled branches of religion.” ”No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” by Reza Aslan
“Religion, it must be understood, is not faith.” Followed by a bunch of words that are meant to lead us to believe that this who thing is really deep – beyond understanding. And yet, the author gets it.
Given the name of this site – I will sort of agree with one thing – religion is a set of rules, a set of prescribed things we are to believe in – set up by people. Well meaning people – but people none-the-less.
I have to totally disagree with the parts where it seems that one God would set us up with varying versions of “truth”. And while I agree that faith gets entangled in the gnarled branches of religion, I don’t for one instant believe that God would leave us lost in those branches, without a way to find Him.
You see, also according to the name of this site – I think God almost certainly has issues with some of the things in our “religions”. I wouldn’t presume to think for God, but it’s hard to believe He doesn’t have issues, We stray from His Word. We add things. We remove things. We change things. All of which Jesus spoke strongly against to the Jewish leaders of His time. All of which John warned us about at the end of the book of Revelation.
One final quote –
Unless otherwise indicated, all translations of the Quran are my own.
This, from a person who has never published a translation of the Quran, as far as I can determine. This from a person who believes the things I quoted above.
I plan to try to continue reading the book. If I do, I’m pretty sure I’ll be writing more.
In the meantime, I leave you with one more quote to consider –
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The first quote and information on the book is available at amazon.com –> http://a.co/atd1Vv9