29 November 2016

Islam's Covenant Perspective

Psalm 107

I read through a scholarly work regarding Islam's concept of “covenant” recently.

I was searching to find if the Quran, or its interpreters since Muhammad, ever taught or introduced a covenant in the fashion as it's understood in the Bible (Old and New Testaments / Covenants).

Spiritual covenants throughout the ages have been established, completed, expanded upon, etc., with each subsequent covenant growing and further entrenching God's relationship and commitment to mankind and what was expected in return.

All covenants, having been revealed to a particular lineage of men and their descendants, have included either specific people or all of humanity (Noah's covenant contrasting Abraham's covenant).

What I found is that Islam's traditional perspective and interpretation of God establishing a covenant with mankind began with Adam and is very unique in its perception.

Adam and his yet-to-be-born progeny was, in the spirit (physically unborn / before creation), called to confirm their acknowledgement of God and their submission / obedience to Him.

The Islamic concept of a long train of prophets imparting a message to mankind is not understood as building upon a legacy as established through a particular family group (as expressed in the Bible).

Instead, the prophets were reminders assisting the wayward, calling them to return to this initial conversation with Adam (and his progeny).

Very much like the accounts of the prophets prior to Israel's expulsion from the land, warning of dire consequences for years of trespass.

The covenant concept in Islam is simple with few precepts, referring primarily to Adam's covenant, then to whichever secondary covenant was 'revealed' through whichever prophet at any point in time... reminding people of the primary covenant with Adam.

This difference in perspective helps both Muslims and non-Muslims understand traditional Islamic concepts of how Muslims view themselves and those outside their culture / religion.

The understanding is distinct.

I didn't find any distinguishing between what is considered the several covenants (growing and evolving) from Noah to Christ, for example, or the mentioning of covenant fulfillment Christ taught, nor the covenant Christ established.

What is repeated is the public ritual of prayer, of almsgiving, and other religious tenets.

I think this reality speaks to a concept that has been built from oral traditions over the ages peoples not having what the Hebrews had; namely the law, the prophetic legacy, the detailed writings of the testimonies, temple worship, etc..

What is found is something that seems to be on its own as far as interpretations of God's relationship with mankind goes.

What is understood from the Abrahamic tradition according to Judaism is defined by the vast written account.

There seems to be a void regarding specific covenant requirements and details in Islam regarding what came before it, although Islam claims to complete, correct and codify all form of religious traditions that preceded it.

This conclusion isn't surprising.

God spoke personally with and to specific people whose testimonies were kept among the lineage known as Hebrews, and none other.

The texts of the New Covenant were initially only found with those encircled in the Way, with imitations and forgeries being obvious to the learned... besides the teachings being initiated orally and placed on the hearts in a most simplistic manner and law: Love God above all and love others, even so-called enemies.

For more about the concept of covenant found throughout ancient times and its factual application in today's secular societies, read this thorough historical encyclopedic entry.

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