Letter to the Editor: Some Clarification on Shahadah and Paradise

Dear Editor,
I am writing in response to the article published November 10, 2011: ‘Her Name is Rachel Cory’ Coming Soon by Dr. David Mazel. I enjoyed reading about Dr. Mazel’s viewpoint and applaud his sympathetic tone to the Palestinian problem. However, I would like to clarify couple of points as mentioned in the article.
First, the article states that Mr. Julio Pino, when asked about his politics, said: “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His Messenger.” This statement is not mentioned anywhere in The Qur’an. This is the fundamental declaration of faith and is called the ‘Shahadah,’ which is pronounced by all Muslims. I do not know the religious inclination of Mr. Pino, however in pronouncing the ‘Shahadah’ one is considered a Muslim. Perhaps Mr. Pino was indicating that he is a Muslim; perhaps not. The declaration or the ‘Shahadah’ to a Muslim is as important and fundamental as the belief that Christians have in Jesus Christ, and is as fundamental as the Jewish affirmation in the existence and uniqueness of God.
So for Dr. Mazel to indicate that Muslims will be better off if they were little less into The Qur’an or should not pronounce the ‘Shahadah,’  is implying that Muslims should not be Muslims. Rather a strange and illogical notion to the 1.6 billion Muslims who identify their existence as Muslims because of The Qur’an and their belief in it and the ‘Shahadah.’ This is similar to saying that Christians should not be into Jesus Christ and the Jews should not be into God.
Second, there is no verse in The Qur’an that mentions that 72 virgins are waiting in heaven. The main source in The Qur’an(78-33) is: “…and splendid companions well-matched,” Muhammad Asad in ‘The Message of The Qur’an’ indicates: “If we bear in mind that the Qur’anic descriptions of the blessings of paradise are always allegorical, we realize that in the above context the term  kawaib (which is an Arabic word in the verse) can have no other meaning than “glorious (or “splendid”) beings,” without any definition of sex; and that, in combination with the term atrab (which is also an Arabic word in the above verse), it denotes, “splendid companions well-matched” – thus alluding to the relations of the blest with one another, and stressing the absolute mutual compatibility and equal dignity of all of them.”
Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University, indicates that The Message of The Qur’an by Muhammad Asad is one of the best English translations available. Please see: Assessing English Translations of The Qur’an by Khaleel Mohammed, Middle East Quarterly Spring 2005, pp. 58-71.
Lastly, it will be appropriate to mention that other religions also mention about paradise in the same context as mentioned by Dr. Mazel in his article. For example, please see Matthew 19-29 in The New Testament: “And for everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life,” The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Dr. Mazel indicates in his article that religious scriptures are mythical books. That may or may not be true. All I know is that one person’s myth maybe another person’s reality and vice versa.

S. Masood Ahmad

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