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5.5 Who bears the sin ?

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him."

Ezekiel 18:20
 

Remembering this, let us read:......
 

Noah curses Canaan:

"And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."

Genesis 9:18-25
 

If for a moment we are to believe that this was originally inspired by God and not a later insertion of mankind, and we are to believe that Noah (pbuh) would drink till he became falling-down drunk and naked. And we are to somehow assign the blame for this to Ham. Then, why curse Canaan (the son of Ham) why not curse Ham directly? Also, why curse only one of the four sons of Ham and not all of them (see Fig. 2)?
 

"And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan."

Genesis 10:6
 

Further, Ham did not uncover his father. He only happened upon his father by chance. He could not have known that he would find his father naked in the tent. His brothers Shem and Japheth were told by Ham of their father's condition. So they knew without having to actually see. If their roles were reversed, and Shem or Japheth were to have been in Ham's shoes, what would they have done differently? Is this justice? If I burn my own house down, and you call the fire department, shall I then randomly select one of your sons and curse him? Why? What could possibly justify such an action?
 

 

 

Fig. 2 The cursing of Canaan
 

One thing that people in Western countries today find hard to comprehend is that in the past, and even today in many Eastern countries, tribalism was a very strong force. A scandal in one tribe or an indiscretion of their ancestors would be powerful ammunition in the hands of their rivals. To have such scandals stated publicly by God himself would only strengthen the validity of that claim (please read section 2.3). If I were a Jewish descendant of Shem or Japhath and my neighbor were a son of Canaan, then I could beat him over the head day and night with the fact that he was a servant of my servants. God Himself said so.
 

"Verily, those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah's covenant and their oaths, they shall have no portion in the Hereafter. Neither will Allah speak to them, nor (will He) look upon them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful torment."

The noble Qur'an, A'al-Umran(3):77
 

For a Muslim, many of the claims to be found in the Bible with regard to the prophets of God, and even God himself, are monstrous and preposterous. One is hard pressed to find a single prophet or messenger who was not a drunkard, an idolater, an adulterer, guilty of incest, a liar, and so forth. The Bible practically overflows with such stories from almost every Tom, Dick, and Harry. The messengers of God are even made to be guilty of multiple cases of adultery and worse. Abraham (pbuh) is alleged to be a liar and worse (Genesis 12:13). Noah (pbuh) a drunkard (Genesis 9:21). Lot (pbuh) a drunkard and guilty of incest (Genesis 19:30-38). Solomon (pbuh) a worshipper of idols in his old age (1 Kings 4-9), King David (pbuh) commits adultery with Uriah's wife and then murdered her husband (2 Samuel 11:3-4,15-18), David's son Ammon is guilty of incest and the rape of his half sister (2 Samuel 13:14). Aaron (pbuh) fashions an idol (the golden calf) for the Jews to worship (Exodus 32:1-4), to name but a very few of the many allegations to be found in the current Bible. We have already seen in section 2.3 how such fabrications found their way into the book of God (also see section 6.8) so we will not get into it here.
 

Muslims believe that God protects his messengers from erring in matters of faith. They can only err in matters of livelihood. For instance, a prophet can make a mistake in selecting which season to plant crops but he can not make a mistake in doctrine and worship. Why? Let us take the example of the most benign of these allegations, that of lying. When a prophet is sent by God to a group of people, he can expect the deck to be stacked severely against him. They will justly assume him to be a liar until proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be otherwise. They will call him a liar even if they have no proof. A prophet's message rests solely on his truthfulness. If he were ever to lie, even to save his life, then this would prove that he is capable of lying and that he has established for himself guidelines under which it is permissible to lie. This would undermine his whole message as no one could then be sure he had not convinced himself that the end justifies the means, and that in order to get them to become decent people he might be willing to fabricate lies against God himself.
 

How much worse to drink oneself into a stupor. Alcohol is the door to all evils. Once a person loses control of his faculties he will be capable of anything. Just look at the allegations presented against Lot* (pbuh). He who is willing to drink in such a fashion must realize that he will be accountable for his subsequent actions. It is not an acceptable excuse to say "I was drunk, I didn't know what I was doing." If your neighbor drinks himself into a stupor and then runs down your mother with his car, will you say "It's not your fault. You were drunk"? Think about the other allegations for a while and you will understand what we mean. Muslims believe that the prophets of God are above such actions.
 

A Muslim believes that when God selects a messenger, He chooses the best of the best. He chooses men who will be an inspiration and a good example for their followers. Why the insistence in the Bible that God has such poor judgment? If my prophets, which God sent to guide and teach me, are sinful people, can I not say "What is good enough for my prophet is good enough for me"?
 

The claim that God wanted to prove the fallibility of humans is quite flimsy. When we elect a congressman, do we look for a man of weak character who we know will use his position to steal and then say: "we did this to prove that thieves are people too," or do we look for the man with the most impeccable character? If this man then steals, do we say "he is only human, don't worry, we might have done the same," or do we say "Kick the son of a gun out of office and throw him in jail!"? When a government sends an ambassador to another country to represent them, do they select a man who they know will bring their country disgrace and dishonor? Since God knows what is in our hearts (Deuteronomy 8:2), does this not make him the supreme judge of character? God's prophets are human, and thus, imperfect. However, they are not this low.
 

Even in this age of indulgence, we can find individuals of sterling character who rise above allowing themselves to become falling-down drunk. There are monks who spend their whole life without a mate much less committing adultery. Incest is such a filthy word that even the most brazen criminal would be disgusted at such a thought. Are our highest examples of humankind less than these men?
 

Let us now look at another allegation against Jesus (pbuh). In John 2:1-10 we read about Jesus' (pbuh) alleged treatment of his mother. In these verses, Jesus (pbuh) is alleged to have said to his mother John 2:4
 

"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come."
 

"Woman, what have I to do with thee?" Is this how a good Christian talks to his mother? The same mother who carried him in her womb for nine months and endured the pains of labor and birth for him. The same mother who endured the lies, accusations, and injuries of many with regard to her chastity because of him? The same mother who suckled him and raised him? Is this how the meek lamb of God is alleged to have responded to his mother's question? Can he find no better manner to address her than that which he used to address the adulteress in John 8:10: ".....Woman, where are those thine accusers?"?
 

In the Qur'an we read the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus (pbuh) wherein we find a defense of Jesus (pbuh) against such claims:
 

"Then she (Mary pbuh) brought him (Jesus pbuh) to her own folk carrying him. They said: 'O Mary, you have truly come with a most wicked innovation. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked man nor was your mother a harlot'. Then she pointed to him. They said: 'How can we speak to one who is in the cradle, a young child?'. He spoke: 'Lo! I am the servant of God, He has given me the Scripture and appointed me a prophet. And has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me prayer and charity so long as I live. And (has made me) dutiful toward my mother and not overbearing or miserable. So peace upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive(the hereafter)"

The noble Qur'an, Maryam(19):27-33.

 

For the Islamic perspective on the prophets, read the following:
 

Jesus: Maryam(19).

Moses: Al-Aaraf(7):103-171, Yunus(10:75-93, Al-Bakarah(2):47-101, Al-Nisa (4):162, Al-Maidah(5):20-26.

Noah: Aal-Umran(3):33, Nooh(71):1-28, Al-Qamar(59):9-16, Yunus(10):71-75, Hood(11):36-49

Solomon: Al-Anbia(21):80-82, Al-Namil(27):15-44, Sad(38):30-40

Abraham: Al-Anaam(6):83-90, Al-Bakarah(2):124, Al-Bakarah(2):130-132, Al-Bakarah(2):135, Al-Bakarah(2):140, Al-Bakarah(2):258, Al-Bakarah(2):260, Aal-Umran(3):33, , Aal-Umran(3):67, Hood(11):75

David: Al-Anbia(21):79-80, Al-Namil(27):15-16, Al-Bakarah(2):251, Saba(34):10-11, Saad(38):17-26, Hood(11):69-76

Lot: Al-Aaaraf(7):80-84, Hood(11):77-83, Al-Hijir(15):59-75, Al-Sharaa(26):160-175, Al-Namil(27):54-58, Al-Ankaboot(29):28-30

Aaron: Al-Aaraf(7):150, Al-Kassas(28):34, Al-Anbia(21):48, Taha(20):80-101, Maryam(19):53, Al-Aaraf(7):142-154
 

For the Islamic viewpoint on God's elect in the face of adversity read the chapter of Yusuf(12) where we find the story of Joseph and of his chastity and fear of God. Also, see Al-Anaam(6):84-90.

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