'Maikhana salaamat hai to hum surkhi-e-mai seTazzain-e-dar-o-baam-e-haram karte rahenge' Faiz
The history of human epics and scriptural myths needs proper defined timelines and a rewrite! Who said what, when?
In response to my post : ''I am a totally secular person, I love human culture, I hate when Taliban destroy Buddha in Bamiyan, but I also hate when so called 'liberals' try to destroy the greatest living human myths, the greatest sacrifice on cross of Jesus, you want to protect every speck of human culture like the Magna Carta Libertatum or The Great Charter of the Liberties of England,the Hammurabi code, but when it comes to scriptural traditions and legends you want to destroy the legendary figures and myths like Moses, Jesus. Why? Let them live like Achilles, Hercules and Samson.''
History one day soon shall clear ambiguity surrounding the chronological order of myths. All myths of afterlife on which Abrahamic prophets have built their 'stories' were much earlier reported in Cuneiform tablets or Hesiod / Homer's epics.
Gilgamesh the mother book of scriptures - The forgotten 'Babylonian Genesis.'
For six days and seven night, the storm demolished the earth. On the seventh day,the downpour stopped. The ocean grew calm.No land could be seen, just water on all sides....I opened a hatch and blessed sun light streamed upon me.... On the seventh day,I brought out a dove and set it free. The dove flew off, then flew back to the ship, because there was no place to land.... I waited,then I brought out a raven and set it free.The raven flew off, and because the water had receded, it found a branch, it sat there,it ate, it flew off and didn't return.
Though this flood story sounds appealing and very recognizable, it is not the 'Noah Ark' story from the first chapter of the Genesis. It is Gilgamesh, translated by Stephen Mitchell .
Akadian researchers have traced the sway of Mesopotamian fiction on the Ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations as well as Genesis. The epics of Iliad and Odyssey by Homer are actually reproduced and extended versions of Gilgamesh. Homer and Genesis are twisted imitations of tales narrated in the epic of Gilgamesh known as 'The Babylonian Genesis.' 'Death and the Afterlife', and 'The Story Of The Flood' in Gilgamesh the Mesopotamian Genesis corresponds conspicuously with the Old Testament and visibly the original version of Noah's Ark and the older Gilgamesh story written nearly a 1,000 years early.
It is intriguing how role of Gods changed in the Mesopotamian epic, where they are portrayed as fickle and self-indulgent to a god that is an omnipotent God. In Genesis the God is shown as intrinsically good unlike the Mesopotamian gods-- the gods of Gilgamesh's world be remorseful the obliteration of man, while the Old Testament God doubts the creation of man. In Epic of Gilgamesh the floods are not a 'celestial curse' for human vice whilst in the Old Testament the true God is portrayed as omnipresent, kind in his dealings with the children of men, who punishes the unrepentant offender, even if it means the devastation of the human race, but who saves the just with his commanding authority.
Religious scriptures have won the battle of myths so far. No one is around to answer my yesterday article: Who is going to nail the pronouncement of 'The Big Bang' on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and in the minds of the 115 cardinals? The critical hub of theology that we are created in last 6,000 years forms the core of the Sistine Chapels ceiling adornments. The narrative of the ceiling exemplify that God made the World as an ideal creation, the creation fell into shame and was chastised by parting from God. The nine scenes painted are the Separation of Light and Darkness, the Creation of the Sun, Moon and Earth, the Separation of Land and Water, the Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, the Temptation and Expulsion, the Sacrifice of Noah, the Great Flood, the Drunkenness of Noah. All these aforementioned are as great a stories as some mentioned in Greek Epics.
The scriptural myths are really practiced today. Michaelangelo configured legends into figures and objects that are transfixed in human mind. Whereas Homer's Greek legions are just a part of movie material where Brad Pitt plays the role of Achilles. But until today, million of faithful run between Safa and Marwa reincarnating the pains of Hagar, and people still tremble like pendulums in front of the Wailing Wall crying for sacrament and atonement. Religious scriptures have stamped practicality where Homer could not.
Where we stand today, we consider anything written within last few thousand years as a part of 'continued history,' but that is all wrong. All scriptural historians have to consider a chronological time line otherwise there is a void in the sequence of understanding of events. All these scriptural myths will soon be connected to Hammurabi cuneiform, Hesiod's Theogony and Homer's Iliad, Odyssey. The only human history of myths which will be factual is the one that shall respect the timelines of history, geography, culture and testified by the carbon dating as proscribed by science. There is an evolution of 4.5 billion years that yielded conscious and sentient life; even 200 years ago, we thought the world was 5,000 years old. Therefore, the time has come to question these issues which are threatening the edifice on which the balance of mankind rests.
Imagine a man trying to sacrifice his son on urging of deity in today's age, such a man even if he is a true prophet would be termed as schizophrenic and locked up. Very learned and enlightened men on all sides of religious aisles continue to believe in the tale of Abraham trying to sacrifice his unique son. The all important thing is that equipped with best of modern knowledge the myths of the past have blinkered all sensibilities, that is the most captivating part. To go through forensic examination of who was to be sacrificed, Isaac or Ishmael, I decided to try building the chronology of events.
Nothing is clear-cut in the Holy Scriptures. ' Allegorical tales about the origins of the world, the gods, and the human race consumes overwhelming passion of man. Gods seems to have taken a great delight in this obsessive earthiness of man. I am totally puzzled and confused reading Kierkegaard's 'Fear and Trembling.' In this book, Kierkegaard creates erudition from the famous bible story (Genesis 22) from when Abraham is distinctively commanded by God to 'sacrifice' his son Isaac. Muslims believe that scribes later corrupted the original reading from Ishmael to Isaac. One needs to look at these contradictions with a little open-mindedness that knowledge accords us in this free world.
Genesis is the first book of the Bible of Judaism and of Christianity, and the first of five books of the Pentateuch or Torah. It recounts Judeo-Christian beliefs regarding the world from creation to the descent of the children of Israel into Egypt, and contains some of the best-known stories of the Old Testament, including Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, and the biblical Patriarchs. The New Testament contains few references to Isaac. There are references to Isaac having been "offered up" by his father, and to his blessing his sons. Genesis was composed around 550 BC by the priests although Moses is placed 800 years before that. One needs to be aware that 'Genesis,' being the oldest, was woven around stories that were thousands of years old before they were inscribed.
Narration of ideologies is 3,000 years of hearsay based on which our modern contemporary practices we deem puritanical and unquestionable are founded on. Today, all history looks to be genuine as long as it is old enough, here we are talking about ancient times when there was no communication or any written records. Most of these fables do not stand any test based on logic and rationale and, therefore, in times to come, all these scriptures which are in terms of rhyme and structure, nowhere near Greek epics, will be treated as those epics.
The reason this debate interests me is because of the fact that we as humanity at large are still victims of these near mythological and fiction stories which were interwoven by early man. We conscious beings from time immemorial to now have a preoccupation with 'The myths of origin or age of gods.'
One precursor of consciousness is that a 'conscious being' does not want to die, he wants to live forever. The notion of heavens and hell originates from this inner most craving. The similarities of fear of death and yearning of after life by the mortal Kings, in the magnificence of Greek epics and fairy tale nature of religious sacred legends like that of Isaac or Ishmael strike a chord with me. Modern Religion and today's divinity is the refined form of our common heritage which is built upon these myths of our own fantasy of imaginations. 'The Histories' by Herodotus is considered as the earliest work of history in Western literature, as 'The Iliad and the Odyssey' two of the best Greek epics written by Homer, and 'The Aeneid' written by Virgil, the best known of Roman poets. The two common ideas woven into the Odyssey and the Iliad are custom and recklessness. The gods, to keep order, handed down customs. When men were wild, alluring the rage of the gods with hubris, they invited vengeance and bedlam by exalting themselves. In fact, if the laws of the gods were submissively followed, life had the probable for eternal good. In my modest estimation, most of the text of scriptures is the continuity of great epics.
The achievement of epic poetry was to create story-cycles and, as a result, to expand a new logic of fairy-tale chronology. I always call Homer as the first real prophet; the Greek myths were later on sophistically turned into refined theologies. Thus Greek mythology unfolds as a phase in the development of the world and of humans. The concept of life-after-death intrigued the earliest of conscious beings. The Pharaohs, the Egyptians believed that the mummified body was the home for this soul or spirit. If the body was destroyed, the spirit might be lost. The idea of 'akh' was complex perhaps translated as "spirit", which had to travel through the Underworld to the Final Judgment and entrance to the Afterlife. Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life.
Jews, Christians and Muslims agree: Abraham, the friend of God, is an example of unadulterated and unqualified virtue and belief. The worship that Abraham displayed towards God is clearly seen in Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only beloved son. All three religions do not dispute this fact. Where they do disagree on, however, is the identity of the sacrificial child.
The Qur'an states that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son. The son is not however named in the Qur'an and in early Islam; there was a dispute over the identity of the son. However, Muslim scholars came to endorse that it was Ishmael. The argument of those early scholars who believed in Isaac rather than Ishmael (notably Ibn Ḳutayba, and al-Ṭabarī), with al Tabari being of Persian descent. Muslims believe that scribes later corrupted the original reading from Ishmael to Isaac. The early dispute was more concerned with Persian rather than Jewish rivalry with Arabs, since the Persians claimed to be descendants of Isaac. Al-Masudi for instance reports a Persian poet (902 CE) who claimed dominance over Arabs through descent from Isaac.Human sacrifice was an everyday activity in Tenochtitlan and children were not exempt. They, in particular, were offered to Tláloc, the god of rain. The Inca culture sacrificed children in a ritual called qhapaq hucha. The practice of child sacrifice in Pre-Columbian cultures, archaeologists have found remains of 42 children.
In the present political war between Jews and Muslims, it is called a war between the sons of Isaac and sons of Ishmael. Both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider Ishmael as the ancestor of northern Arab people Muslim Ishmael is Abraham's eldest son or first born and natural heir. Judaism has generally viewed Ishmael as wicked though repentant. Judaism maintains that Isaac (the father of the Jewish people) rather than Ishmael was the true heir of Abraham.
"After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here am I.' He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you'." (Genesis 22:1-2, R.S.V.)
No one is sure where the incident took place, was it in Paran (Palestine) or Mina near Makkah? This is a discrepancy of a few thousand kilometres in a day and age where one could not cross that distance easily. Muslims on the other hand feel that Ishmael was the one offered up by Abraham. They believe that the Holy Bible supports this by its declaration that Abraham offered his only son (see above verses). Ishmael was Abraham's only son for over 13 years, which would make it impossible for Isaac to be the child of sacrifice. (Cf. Genesis 16:16, 21:5).
Jewish historians insist that the sacrificial son was Ishaq, not Isma'il. Islamic historians disagree on the matter; they insist on Ibrahim's sacrifice of Isma'il. According to the Bible, Sarah (Abraham's wife) was childless, yet desired a son. She offers her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a substitute. Customs of the time dictated that, although Hagar was the birth mother, any child conceived would belong to Sarah and Abraham.
Hagar became pregnant and was proud of herself, which resulted in harsh treatment of her by Sarah.'Hagar fled and ran into the wilderness, where an angel appeared to her by a spring of water. When Sarah was beyond child-bearing age, God tells Abraham and Sarah that Sarah will still give birth, at which she privately laughed. (Genesis 18:10-12) Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old, and Abraham circumcised Isaac when the boy was eight days old. (Genesis 21:1-5) Isaac was Sarah's first and only child, but Abraham had had another son, Ishmael, thirteen years earlier, a child with Sarah's maidservant, Hagar. (Genesis 16:15) But after a time, after Isaac had been weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac, and she urged her husband to banish Hagar and her child so that Isaac would be Abraham's only heir. Abraham was hesitant but at God's order he listened to his wife's request. (Genesis 21:8-12).
He initially refused to do as Sarah asked. He finally gave in to his wife's request when God told him that He would take care of Ishmael, since he was a descendant of Abraham. Abraham provided Hagar and her child with bread and a bottle of water and sent her into the desert of Paran. Hagar, with her son, wandered in the wilderness and ran out of water. When they were reduced to great distress, an angel appeared and showed Hagar a spring of water saying "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." They lived in the wilderness of Paran, where Hagar's son became an expert in archery.
In Islamic tradition, Abraham was commanded by Allah to leave his wife Hagar and their infant son alone in the desert, with only basic provisions, to test of their faith. The desert place was between the Al-Safa and the Al-Marwah. When their provisions were exhausted, Hagar went in search of water. To make her search easier she went alone, leaving the baby Ishmael on the ground. She first climbed the nearest hill, Al-Safa, to look over the surrounding area. When she saw nothing, she then went to another hill, Al-Marwah, to look around. While Hagar was on either hillside, Hagar was able to see Ishmael and know he was safe. However, when she was in the valley between the hills she was unable to see her son. Thus Hagar would run while in the valley between the hills and walk at a normal pace while on the hillsides. Hagar travelled back and forth between the hills seven times in the scorching heat before she returned to Ishmael. When she arrived, she found that a spring had sprouted forth from the crying baby kicking at the sand with his feet. This spring is now known as the Zamzam Well.'
We are not even sure it was Isaac or Ismail it was Safa or Paran 2500 km away. The geographical coordinates are way apart. It is our ritualism that makes us cut throats for life after.
Genesis 22 relates the binding of Isaac, in which God tests Abraham by asking him to present his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. No reason is given within the text. Abraham agrees to this command without arguing. The story ends with an angel stopping Abraham at the last minute and making Isaac's sacrifice unnecessary by providing a ram, caught in some nearby bushes, to be sacrificed instead. No one is sure where the incident took place, was it in Paran (Palestine) or Mina near Makkah?
This is a discrepancy of a thousand kilometres in a day and age where one could not cross that distance easily. Muslims on the other hand feel that Ishmael was the one offered up by Abraham. They believe that the Holy Bible supports this by its declaration that Abraham offered his only son (see above verses). Ishmael was Abraham's only son for over 13 years, which would make it impossible for Isaac to be the child of sacrifice. (Cf. Genesis 16:16, 21:5).
What astonishes me the most is that in contemporary terms of history scholars assume all narrations of the past to provide weighty indistinguishable testimonials as far as they belong to antiquity. The Wilderness or Desert of Paran is said to be the place where Abraham's wife Sarai and her Egyptian servant girl Hagar (Genesis 16:1) by permission bore him a son Ishmael were sent into exile from Abraham's dwelling in Beersheba (Genesis 21) Mecca is deep within Saudi Arabia and about 1,000 kilometers south of Mt. Sinai (where the Wilderness of Paran is located). Hagar and Ishmael left Abraham, they settled in the Wilderness of Paran (Genesis 21:20-21). The children of Israel left Egypt, eventually went to the area of Sinai and camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Once they left that area, they relocated to an area called the Desert of Paran (Numbers 10:12). We can assume that this is the exact same location as the one Hagar and Ishmael settled in years before after leaving Abraham.
Mecca is located 1,000 kilometers – across barren desert – away from the Holy Land. The record of Abraham’s journey as detailed in Scripture and confirmed by archaeology, precludes any notion of Abraham, Hagar or Ishmael ever having been in Mecca. Additionally, they lived almost 1,000 years before the first caravan route was ever established along the Red Sea in Arabia. Indeed Abraham’s journey never brought him within about 1000, to as much as 1500, kilometers of Mecca.
Imagine today, one of the most important rituals of the Muslim Pilgrimage (Hajj) is the run between Mount Safa and Marwah seven times, in remembrance of Hagar's desperate search for water for her son. Millions of faithful run between the two mounts: the most important religious prescription is based on vagueness, because if it happened in Paran, as Genesis foretells, then the running between Safa and Marwa in the last 1400 years is a debatable subject and becomes open to query. Humankind has no answer to this. What is accurate in terms of pilgrimage rituals? Should it happen between the mountains in Paran, or between the hills of Safa and Marwa? 'Hajj' and 'Umrah' were performed even when the Ka'aba was under the polytheists with 360 gods inside. It was a pagan Qurayashi tradition for hundreds of years. Most of the practices of Hajj are a revival of pagan traditions in a fresh wrapping. Apparently desert pagans (due to their alleged Abrahamic past) knew somehow the closest way to please the Creator (with some additions and subtractions).
Chronological accounts have to be understood in terms of first citing. Religious apologists refute evidence based on chronology and first coverage, which is the cause of a lot of confusion and hearsay. The scriptures are telling us diverse stories. Accusations are made that the word of Genesis had been transgressed with. The present opinionated conflict is based on this kind of unexamined reality. This is the kind of test which is very obvious but no one dares to undertake. It borders on profanity and blasphemy. It clearly indicates that myths not realities are strongly implanted in the ideological consciousness of mankind. It is clear that these myths have to be taken with equal pinch of salt like we take the Sword of Damocles, Midas's Touch or Achilles' Heel.
The real 'story tellers' of man like Hesiod, Beotian poet, who composed the primitive and systematic account of the history of the gods, full of dark forces, deities, and violence in Theogony and Homer who composed the Iliad (a long epic on the wrath of the warrior Achilles, which endangered the Greek expedition to Troy) or the Odyssey (an equally long poem on the difficult voyage home of Odysseus), failed. These and Hammurabi cuneiform are the origin of all scriptural myth, the papal 'pomposity and glory of today' all roots in these myths. The scriptural prophets are the ones humans mostly follow and whose edicts have become a part of our lives. And the political divisions of the world today are based on these injunctions of Abrahamic legends.
The episodes even fictional are more likely to be close to authenticity depending on who reports them first. Homer would explain myth of 'after life better' than Virgil or 'Genesis' and almost certainly Islamic historians after 3000 years of Abraham incident were in no capacity to comment on who was under the knife.
Our children should be taught the history with continuity and space. They should be taught great respect towards all ideologies. But the toxin of rites and rituals and Puritanism has to be restricted; that is the malice which is creating divisions. Until we learn new history, there can be no real peace. In this 21st century, these engrained ideas of 'Holy Truth' need to be challenged. From the histories we get the best description of the Battle of Marathon. Despite being thousands of years old, many of the problems that ancient Greeks faced, we still face today. Enlightened leaderships of the world look to Herodotus' Histories to learn from mistakes the ancient Greeks made with democracy. If we don't learn from the past, we're doomed to repeat it.