Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi: Bridge-building began with the prophets

Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them (pbut), in a prophetic reference from the Bible:

 

Deuteronomy 33:1: “And this (is) the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand (went) a fiery law for them.”

This is a chronological succession of prophets that is narrated through reference to location. This prophesy is reported at the end of Deuteronomy in association with the story of the death of the prophet Moses, peace be upon him (pbuh). It was a blessing and glad tidings bestowed by prophet Moses upon his followers just before to his death. It was designed to give his followers hope upon the occasion of the passing of their prophet that God is not abandoning them; rather, the best is yet to come, and He shall continue to bless mankind with His guidance and His light.

Sinai is a reference to Moses (pbuh). It is an obvious reference to Mount Sinai, where Moses (pbuh) received his revelation (Exodus 19:20).

Seir is a reference to Jesus (pbuh). It is a reference to the chain of mountains west and south of the Dead Sea extending through Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus (pbuh). It was later extended to include the mountains on the East side, too (Dictionary of the Bible, John L. McKenzie, S.J., p. 783). Seir is also identified with the Northern border of the tribal territory of Judah, which is just north of these two cities (The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, by Allen C. Myers, pp. 921-922). Prophet Moses (pbuh) never in his lifetime entered Palestine, and thus, this could not be a reference to him.

Paran is a reference to the city of Makkah in the Arabian Peninsula. The wilderness of Paran is where Abraham’s wife Hagar and his eldest son, Ishmael, settled (Genesis 21:21) in the Arabian desert; specifically, Makkah, the capital of Islam in Arabia and the birthplace of Muhammad (pbuh). Mount Paran is the chain of mountains in that same region that the Arabs call the Sarawat mountains. Muhammad (pbuh) first became the prophet of Islam in the cave of “Hira’a” in these mountains. Jesus never in his life traveled to Paran. Muhammad, however, was born there, and he died there. It was the capital of the Islamic religion in that day and this.

All of the prophets of the Bible including Jesus and Moses (pbut) all came from either Palestine or from Babylon. No prophet of the Bible ever came from the Arabian city of Paran (Makkah). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the only prophet of God who has ever fulfilled this prophesy. We also read in verse 33:2 that a fiery law shall issue forth from the right hand of the prophet from Paran. The reference to “right” hand is a reference to strength, justice and guidance.

In the Quran, the good are described on the Day of Judgment as receiving their book of deeds in their “right” hand, while the wicked receive theirs in their “left” hand. This general attitude is conveyed in the Bible, too. However, if we look closely, we will find that the prophesy contains one more requirement.

It tells us that this prophet from Paran who will bring a fiery new law shall come with 10,000 saints. Once again, two years before the death of prophet Muhammad (pbuh), in the year A.D. 630, he led 10,000 of his followers to their final and decisive victory against the pagans of Makkah. This was one of the most peaceful victories of all history. The Muslims took control of Makkah, the capital of paganistic Arabia, virtually without a single casualty.

Upon entering Makkah victorious, Muhammad did not take its inhabitants as prisoners. Although these people had been torturing and killing his companions and him for so many years, he commanded that they not be tortured, nor should retaliation be sought against them. Rather, he set them all free. Most of them entered into Islam.

Once again, we find that prophet Moses (pbuh) was appointed 70 very close and devout followers (Exodus 24:1-9, Numbers 11:16-25). Jesus (pbuh) was appointed 11 very close and devout followers (if we were not to count Judas), as seen in Matthew 10:1-5, Mark 3:14-19, etc. Additionally, prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the only one to fulfill this requirement. The wording also bears out this chronological succession of prophets.

Came: arrival of the sun in the morning. Rose up: like the light of dawn. Shined forth: Midday sun that lights up the Earth from east to west. Islam has indeed come to shine all over the earth as the midday sun. It is estimated to have 1.6 billion followers throughout the globe today.

Similar reference is mentioned in the Quran in chapter 95 verses 1-3 where God swears by these three locations in reference to the three prophets: “I swear by the fig and the olive (referring to the land of Palestine, which is famous for planting figs and olives), and Mount Sinai, and this land secure (referring to Mecca).”

I am bringing up these biblical and Quranic references about the three great prophets because my ministry in bridge-building with these references, the children of Abraham, through my interfaith involvement is coming to an end here in Augusta, as I am leaving the Islamic Society of Augusta at the end of 2016. I have worked diligently during the past four years with all members of faith, who represent the beautiful mosaic of Augusta, to bring better understanding and more awareness among people of faith and my own Islamic faith.

I firmly believe that prophet Abraham taught his two sons, prophet Ishmael and prophet Isaac, the same, and they, in turn, taught their children and their followers the same principles they learnt from their father Abraham. So why are we, the children of Abraham, continuously disputing and segregating based on our differences, rather than conversing and uniting based on our similarities? I joined the Interfaith Fellowship of Augusta from the inception of my journey in Augusta, and they have helped me progress more in bringing awareness to the children of Abraham and the children of Adam, the father of humanity. I made the mosque I served in available and accessible to all different faiths to visit and to attend. This is how I understood my Islam.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said: The true believer is that one who quickly becomes familiar and befriends others, and vice versa. I am very thankful to all my fellow Augustans, be they believers or clergy, to newspapers and media outlets, to my dear honorable mayor of the city and the officials, to the law enforcement agencies, and last and foremost my own Muslim community of Augusta for allowing me to accomplish my mission and facilitate the venue. I sincerely hope that my successor, whoever he may be, continues the bridge-building path that I have been involved in with the Interfaith Fellowship of Augusta and works to strengthen the relationship with members of other faiths.

At this moment, the end of 2016, I pray God the Almighty, the Supreme, the Creator to bring His peace and His mercy upon all the suffering ones, heal the sick, reduce the pain, and make 2017 a blessed year for everyone and make His children more aware of Him.

Jamal Daoudi ends his tenure as the imam of the Islamic Society of Augusta on Dec. 31. He may be reached via email at imamdaoudi@hotmail.com.

 

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