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I started to realise that I might be seen as dishonest on reading the following:

 

57:27. Then, in their wake, We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy. But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them: (We commanded) only the seeking for the Good Pleasure of Allah. but that they did not foster as they should have done. Yet We bestowed, on those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are rebellious transgressors.

Yusuf Ali

"the Monasticism which they invented for themselves": this statement seemed a little too strong to ignore. The other references to monasticism I had found were:

 

5:82. Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.

Here monasticism is stated as being positive, and this verse is commented on as follows:

 

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

[5:82-86]. These verses were revealed about the Negus and his followers. Said Ibn ‘Abbas: “… Whenever they read a verse, the tears rolled down their cheeks due to the truth which they recognized. Allah, exalted is He, says: (That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud)â€. … “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, sent ‘Amr ibn Umayyah al-Damri with a message to the Negus. The latter read the message of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and then called Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib and all the Emigrants with him and he also invited priests and monks to the assembly. He ordered Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib to recite to them from the Qur’an, and he read Surah Maryam, peace be upon her. They believed in the Qur’an and tears flowed from their eyes. It is about them that Allah, exalted is He, revealed (And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians) up to His words (Inscribe us as among the witnesses)â€.

Here monks are described, and they remained as Christians also, for when the Negus died we read:

 

One of these texts has the isnad Yazld - Sa'Id - Qatada, by

which, according to Horst and Sezgin, al-Tabarl transmitted

Qatada's own Tafstr. It runs as follows:[using large font size is not allowed]

 

Trad. 1: K. 3:199 was revealed concerning the Negus. The Prophet

prayed that the sins of the Negus might be forgiven, and said the

funeral prayers for him when the news of his death reached him. He

said to his Companions, "Pray for a brother of yours, who has died

abroad". Some Hypocrites said, "He prays for a dead person who is

not of his own religion". Then God revealed K. 3:199.

 

(you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetuni-marburg.de/cnms/arabistik/team/raven/Abyssinia"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetuni-marburg.de/cnms/arabistik/t...raven/Abyssinia[/url]

SOME EARLY IslamIC TEXTS ON THE

NEGUS OF ABYSSINIA

3:199 is as follows: And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah. They will not sell the Signs of Allah for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account.[using large font size is not allowed]

"not of his own religion": they all remained normal practising Christians. So as such, it seemed that monasticism should not have been given such a negative image by Islaam. The following verses have parallels in Islaam too:

 

 

9:31. They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah. there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).

Well, some Muslims pray to their saints and bow down to their graves. They take their 'imams' and 'mullahs' as 'lords beside Allaah', but does this mean that the concept of imams and mullahs is wrong? No.

 

9:34. O ye who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of Allah. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah. announce unto them a most grievous penalty-

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi comments: "…Mu‘awiyah was of the opinion that it was revealed about the people of the Book, while I said to him that it was revealed about them as well as about us. … ". So it is not the concept of such an office or title that is wrong, merely its abuse.

 

So without knowledge of 57:27 it seemed as though the concept of monasticism could be embraced by Muhammad (God rest his soul). Indeed Bukhari seemed to imply this:

 

volume 3, Book 43, Number 662:

 

Narrated Abu Huraira:

 

Allah's Apostle said, "There was an israeli man called Juraij, while he was praying, his mother came and called him, but he did not respond to her call. He said (to himself) whether he should continue the prayer or reply to his mother. She came to him the second time and called him and said, "O Allah! Do not let him die until he sees the faces of prostitutes." Juraij used to live in a hermitage. A woman said that she would entice Juraij, so she went to him and presented herself (for an evil act) but he refused. She then went to a shepherd and allowed him to commit an illegal sexual intercourse with her and later she gave birth to a boy. She alleged that the baby was from Juraij. The people went to Juraij and broke down his hermitage, pulled him out of it and abused him. He performed ablution and offered the prayer, then he went to the male (baby) and asked him; "O boy! Who is your father?" The baby replied that his father was the shepherd. The people said that they would build for him a hermitage of gold but Juraij asked them to make it of mud only."

See also Volume 2, Book 22, Number 297m

Here a hermit/monk is accused falsely of sexual immorality, but Allaah performs a miracle to defend him. Hence Allaah is happy with such a life for certain people who have the strength for it. After all, Jesus was "one chaste, forbidden from women" and "(chaste) has no desire for women", and monks are merely imitating their master (Tafsir al-Jalalayn and Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs on 3:39 respectively). (I quoted above in post #24 how Muhammad's feet swelled because he was giving thanks to Allaah. Monasticism is properly just on the same lines, but with more thankfulness giving them strength.)

 

So how can monasticism be bad or an invention when all it is, is people striving to imitate Jesus and living together to help each other and avoid women because generally they are not as strong as Jesus? (Ancient Judaism had monasticism also; Christians did not invent.)

 

Richard

 

PS The other commentaries give basically the same account, but I did find this little nice comment:

Tafsir Ibn Kathir : Surah List : Surah No.5 The Reason Behind Revealing these Ayat

'In their book is the saying; "He who strikes you on the right cheek, then turn the left cheek for him." '

 

However, one made my eyebrows rise, Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs on 57:27. "(But monasticism they invented) they built monasteries and cloisters to escape the sedition of Paul, the Jew." – the lack of knowledge of Christianity is actually laughable, and sad that such ignorance has become commonplace …

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