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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Ramadan 2014

Ramadan is a fast lasting for a period of 30 days between the hours of sunrise and sunset where no food or water is allowed to be taken. Sabbath keepers would not fast during the Biblical Sabbath so these days would have to be made up. Ramadan comes from the Quran, the holy month when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed. The Prophet was the last, except for the ministry of the Two Witnesses (and return of Jesus), sent by God to the House of Israel and the House of Judah. Israel and Judah have rejected God's Prophet whom was alluded to in the book of Malachi (Hebrew for Messenger).

Ramadan begins on the 28th June 2014 according to the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar follows the Hebrew calendar by having 355 days leaving it 10-11 days short of the solar calendar which is 365 years. The Jews adjust this by the addition of a month (Adar 2) into the calendar during some years in a 19 year cycle.

Islam allows the days to fall behind by not adjusting the calendar so Ramadan can be in almost any season. Ramadan was in December in 2000 but this year it is in June. This cannot be right since Ramadan must fall in the ninth month. The ninth month corresponds to the Hebrew month of Elul. This is based on the Prophet Muhammed adopting a Jewish fast called the 10th of Muharram.

From the article The Islamic Jewish Calendar by By Ben Abrahamson and Joseph Katz:

There have been several attempts to trace the roots of Jewish aspects of the Islamic Calendar. The Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam says: "The starting-point for a comparison between the Islamic and the Jewish Calendar is the optional fast-day Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram, which is an Islamic continuation of the Day of Atonement”.6 G. Widengren says: “If Muharram is comparable with Tishri, then the month of Ramadhan is comparable to the Jewish month of Sivan, the month of the Jewish Feast of Weeks. Islamic tradition lays down that that it was on the nights of Ramadhan, … Lailat Al-Kadr … that Muhammed received the revelation of the Koran.

At first glance it would appear that the fast of 10th of Muharram is Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement but this is incorrect. It would not make any logical sense for the Prophet Muhammed whom wrote in favour of God's Sabbath in five separate Surah's not to know about the Day of Atonement. Muhammed came from an Arab Jewish tribe called the Quryash (Koresh) tribe. This is known as one of the Jewish Arab tribes.

From On Muhammad's treatment of Banu Qurayzah, a Jewish tribe by Karen Armstrong:

In Medina, the chief casualties of this Muslim success were the three Jewish tribes of Qaynuqah, Nadir and Qurayzah, who were determined to destroy Muhammad and who all independently formed alliances with Mecca... The Nadir proved to be even more of a danger outside Medina, so when the Jewish tribe of Qurayzah sided with Mecca during the Battle of the Trench, when for a time it seemed that the Muslims faced certain defeat, Muhammad showed no mercy."
The Prophet Muhammed was born into a Jewish Arab tribe called the Koresh. Just one of several Jewish tribes in the area. At that time wealthy Jews controlled the area. It would be unlikely during Yom Kippur, where all Jews are required to attend the synagogue, Muhammed would not have known about this day.

It is likely the 10th of Muharram was a minor fast day not outlined in the Torah. It is likely this day was the 10th of Tevet which falls in December. Muhammed was not aware of this fast day and later told his disciples to adopt it as a custom. A far cry from Islam today which rejects Jewish customs and the Torah.

From the article The Islamic Jewish Calendar by By Ben Abrahamson and Joseph Katz:

There are traditions found in Sunni books to the effect that the Prophet on migrating to Medina found the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram.30 He asked them why, and was told: "It is an auspicious day; it is the day when God delivered the children of Israel from their enemy; and, therefore, Moses fasted on that day [because of the broken tablets]." The Prophet said, "I am worthier of Moses [more ‘Jewish’] than you are." Thereupon, he fasted on that day and ordered [the Muslims] to fast. The importance of this fast to the Prophet may be judged from another tradition narrated in al-Sahih of al-Bukhari: "The Prophet ordered a man from the [tribe of] Aslam: Announce to the people that whoever has eaten should fast the rest of the day, and whoever has not eaten should fast [the whole day], because today is the 'Ashura [10th day of Muharram]."

Counting from 10 Tevet would put Ramadan closer to Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets. The 30 days of fasting would coincide with the month of Elul ending with Rosh Hashanah which would break the fast. Rosh Hashanah coincides with the Night of Power in Islam. The Night of Power is the evening the Quran came down from heaven. Interestingly, the feast of Trumpets was the day Moses received the Torah for the second time (after breaking the Tablets of the Testimony) when he first came down from the mountain.

"Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that mankind will distinguish from right and wrong).." (Quran, Surah 2:183).

Elul

About the month of Elul:

According to Jewish tradition, the month of Elul is the time that Moses spent on Mount Sinai preparing the second set of tablets after the golden calf incident (Ex. 32; 34:27-28). He ascended on Rosh Chodesh Elul and descended on the 10th of Tishri, at the end of Yom Kippur, when repentance was complete. Elul marked the beginning of a period of 40 days that Moses prayed for God to forgive the people for worshipping the golden calf.

Moses was with God for two periods of forty days and forty nights each. The first period was recorded in Exodus 24:18 through Exodus 31:18. At the end of which, God gave Moses the first set of tablets, wherein contained the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18). But the first set was destroyed at the foot of Mount Sinai when Moses cast them down upon seeing the people worshipping the golden calf (Exodus 32:19) that they had created, and committing the sins centred around the idol.

Counting from Tishri, the month of Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year), Elul is the twelfth and last month of the year. Like the names of the other months of the Hebrew Calendar, Elul is known as the month of "Returning to God" or "Repentance". Although the Israelites believe that God always watches over the world, and is always waiting for their return, they also believe that He is more accessible during the 40-day period beginning with the start of the month of Elul and culminating in the first ten days of the Month of Tishri.

Elul is the month given each year to prepare for the Days of Awe. These days, also known as the Ten Days of Repentance, begin with Rosh Hashanah, and end with Yom Kippur.

Elul is the month used to repent and to return to God. This corresponds with Ramadan through a process of fasting as a means to humble oneself and return to God.

Night of Power

The Night of Power was the very night the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven.

"Indeed We have revealed it (Qur'an) in the night of Power. And what will explain to you what the night of Power is? The night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein descends the Angels and the Spirit (Gabriel) by Allah's permission, on every errand: (they say) "Peace" (continuously) till the rise of Morning!" (Q 97:1-5)

We sent it (this Qur'an) down on a blessed Night. Verily, We are ever warning (mankind of Our Torment). Therein (that Night) is decreed every matter of ordainment. Amran (i.e. a command or this Qur'an or His Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messenger). (As) a Mercy from your Lord. Verily! He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower." (Ad-Dukhaan 44: 3-6)7

Islam does not know when this night happened except that it is during the final days of Ramadan. Moses fasted forty days then received the Torah (Exodus 34:28-29). The Prophet Muhammed fasted for 30 days then received the Quran. The Night of Power then ends the fasting period. This must mean it ends the fast. The Night of Power is the Feast of Trumpets.

Wikipedia writes on the Night of Power:

Most of the Muslims believe that Laylat al-Qadr is to be the night when the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad from Allah

As per the Quran (Sura Qadr) Angels come down on the earth with all things (destiny of the people for the coming year). "The angels and Jibreel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair" (97:4).

Similarly Lailatul Qadr' is to be found in the last ten odd nights of Ramadan but mostly on the 19th or 21st or 23rd or 27th night of Ramadan.

The Night of Power is the night which determines the fate of mankind. Feast of Trumpets is also the night where the fate of mankind is determined.

From the article: The Night of Power:

Muslims believe angels perform special deeds on this night

The whole Night of Power, from sunset to dawn, is the holiest night of the year. It is believed that there are groups of special angels who are only seen on the Night of Power. These angels perform special purposes. Some come down for worship, others for granting the request of the believing Muslim. Other angels come down bringing with them proclamations of the coming year.

Today, many Muslims think this is a special night when God gives heed to their requests. Often they are open to dreams and visions as they seek for guidance and revelation. Many Muslims pray all night seeking a response to specific requests. One common belief is that angels will shower down the peace and blessings of God on all who remain awake during this “night of power”. According to the Qur’an, God either listens directly or via the angel Gabriel, to the requests of Muslims concerning their fate.

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said that when Laylat al-Qadr comes, Gabriel descends with a company of angels who invoke blessings on ever who is standing or sitting and remembering Allah, who is Great and Glorious.

Then when their festival day comes, i.e. the day when they break their fast, Allah speaks proudly of them to His angels saying, “My angels, what is the reward of a hired servant who has fully accomplished his work?” They reply, “Our Lord, his reward is that he should be paid his wage in full.” He says, “My angels, My male and female servants have fulfilled what I have made obligatory for them, and then have come out raising their voices in supplication. By My might, glory, honour, high dignity and exalted station, I shall certainly answer them.”

Then He says, “Return, for I have forgiven you and changed your evil deeds into good deeds.” He said that they then returned having received forgiveness.

Bayhaqi transmitted it in Shu’ab al-Iman. Al-Tirmidhi Hadith Hadith 2096 Narrated by Anas ibn Malik

Feast of Trumpets

Similar traditions exist in Judaism. Everyone's fate is determined on the Feast of Trumpets for the coming year. It is the day of Judgement for mankind.

From the book: The Radiance of Rosh Hashanah by David Meisels:

Rosh Hashanah, literally translated, means "head of the - year." Why is it not called "Beginning of the Year"? The primary organ of the human anatomy is the head. Similarly, the first day of the year, the day when God decides man's fate for the entire year, is called the head of the year, the paramount day of the year.

The gemara in Rosh Hashanah 2a says: The first day of Tishrei is Rosh Hashanah. Explains Rabbi Nachman ben Yitzchak: This refers to Divine judgment. God judges the whole world and decides what will happen until the next Rosh Hashanah. As it says, "From the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (Devarim 1 1 : 12). From the beginning of the year, sentence is passed as to what shall transpire until the end of the year.

The Mishnah says: On Rosh Hashanah, all people pass before God, one by one, in single file, as it says, "He who fashions the hearts of them all, who comprehends all their deeds " (Tehillim 33: 15). Although He sees the hearts of all of them and views them with a simple glance, He scrutinizes each one individually, one by one.

And when the Jews blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, all accusing angels are silenced and vanish into nothingness. ... Rabbi Akiva says: In the legal proceedings of the Sanhedrin, some judges will vote for acquittal, while others will vote for a guilty verdict. It is the same in the Heavenly Court, as it says, "I saw God seated upon His Throne, with all the Hosts of Heaven standing in attendance to the right and to the left of Him" (1 Melachim 22: 19).

On Rosh Hashanah, the forces of Life and the forces of Death confront each others The righteous who come with teshuvah and good deeds are inscribed in the Book of Life. Those who come with their wickedness are inscribed in the Book of Death.

On Rosh Hashanah, Satan takes note of those that have been inscribed for death and he records their names. But when the shofar is sounded he becomes cohed and cannot identify the people whose names he has written down as candidates for death. But if a person does not do teshuvah, they show Satan the document with the death sentence against this person, and he goes and carries out the verdict.(Zohar 2:237)

There are two pillars of fire blazing in Heaven: one burning with white fire, the other with black fire. There are two clerks that write down the sentences with black fire on white fire. (Zohar 3 :99)

The Three Books

Rabbi Kruspeda'i said: Three books are opened on Rosh Hashanah: One of the totally wicked [people who have more sins than mitzvos], one for the totally righteous people who have more mitzvos than sins], and on for those in between [people whose mitzvos are evenly balanced with their sins]. The totally righteous are inscribed and sealed immediately in the Book of Life; the totally wicked are inscribed and sealed immediately in the Book of Death; the sentence of the in-between people is left pending from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. If they deserve it, they are inscribed in the Book of Life; if they don't deserve it, they are inscribed in the Book of Death.

Rabbi Avin said: What verse supports this? "May they be erased from the book of life, and let them not be inscribed with the righteous " (Tehillim 69:29). "May they be erased from the book" refers to the book of the wicked; "of life " refers to the book of the righteous; "and let them not be inscribed with the righteous" refers to the book of the in-between people [who are not inscribed until Yom Kippur]. Rabbi Nachman derives from here: "[Moshe said to God:] If not, erase me now from the book that You have written" (Shemos 32:32). "Erase me now" refers to the book of the wicked; 'from Your book" refers to the book of the righteous; "That you have written " refers to the book of the in-between. (Rosh Hashanah 16b)

... Mishnah in Avos 2: 1 where it says "All your deeds are recorded in a book." Whatever a person does each and every day is written down in this book. On Rosh Hashanah this book is split up into three sections: righteous deeds, wicked deeds and in between deeds, and these sections are opened, and according to what is written there a person is judged; for life, for death or his verdict remains pending until Yom Kippur.(Asarah Ma'amaros)

A totally righteous person is one who has more mitzvos than sins. A totally wicked person is one who has more sins than mitzvos. An in-between person is one whose mitzvos are evenly balanced with his sins. (Rosh Hashanah 16a [see Rashi and Tosafos 1.c.I)

Conclusion:

The Night of Power begins the "Festival" which is the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah. This is the time when all mankind is Judged by God when He sits on His Throne. People are judged because of their performance during the previous year. Those who are righteous are written in to the Book of Life. Those who have done evil are inscribed into the Book of Death. Those whose deeds are evenly matched have judgement deferred until the Day of Atonement. The ten days of Awe (from Trumpets to Day of Atonement) are a time for people to repent to seek God's favour. The inbetweeners have ten days that can affect the Judgement of God.

Ramadan, the fast for 30 days, falls during the month of Elul. A time to seek God's favour before the judgement at the Feast of Trumpets. The time is spent fasting during Elul or Ramadan as a form of repentance. Since we do not accept Christ's sacrifice or the Eucharist, fasting becomes a way to atone for sins.

Ramadan is a festival that does not contradict the Torah or scriptures. The Islamic calendar sadly does not coincide this festival with Elul so it is not observed correctly at its proper time. Rather it falls almost at any time depending on the year. We should endeavour to keep the festival during Elul at its proper time. Ramadan is a fast for 30 days (except on Sabbath), between the hours of sunrise and sunset when no food or drink is allowed.

Fasting during the Islamic dates of Ramadan will do us no harm either. But we must be reminded the festival has fallen away from its correct time.

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