Thursday, February 04, 2016

What Obama Wasn't Familiar With

In his speech at the Maryland mosque, President Obama uttered these words:

And like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.  Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.” (Applause.)  For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar. (Laughter.)

Well, those words sound quite familiar to Jews, too.

Once there was a gentile who came before Shammai, and said to him: "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot. Shammai pushed him aside with the measuring stick he was holding. The same fellow came before Hillel, and Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."  - Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Too bad the original source was not familiar to the President.



Obama said: “The Qur’an says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.”
This is what the Qur’an really says:
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption in the land — it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one — it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. (5:32)
First, note that this is not a general moral principle applying to everyone, as Obama implied, but one only for the Children of Israel. Nor is it is not a general prohibition of killing: there are big exceptions for those who kill “for a soul or for corruption in the land.” And it concludes that even after this command was given, “many of them, after that … were transgressors” — so all it is really saying is that Allah gave a command to the Children of Israel and they transgressed against it. It isn’t anything more than yet another Qur’anic castigation of the Jews.
Also, it is followed in the Qur’an by 5:33, which specifies the punishment for the corruption and transgressions of the Children of Israel: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.”
Thus this passage is explaining what must be done with Jews who reject Muhammad, not dictating lofty moral principles. 


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