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The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories







The Legacy of Abraham

By David Van Biema

In the article published in Time Magazine on the 30th of December 2002, David Van Biema looks deeply into the story of Abraham, as it is seen from different views such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam through political and historical reflections on current times.
Almost everybody knows the outline of Abraham’s story, but until recently he probably has not received the credit he deserves as a religious innovator. As biblical pioneer of the idea that there is only one God, he is on a par with Moses, St. Paul and Muhammad, responsible for a "complete departure from everything that has gone before in the evolution of culture and sensibility". In other words, he changed the world.
A largely unknown fact among Jews, is the strong acceptance of Abraham as a leader and a father. Christianity accepts his Torah story as a part of the Old Testament and honours him in Roman Catholic masses and in protestant children’s songs. Praising him as their father and telling the story of the sacrifice of his son Isaac as model for true believe and dedication to the Lord. The church of the holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is arguably the most Christian place on earth and it is believed that Jesus was crucified there. The mosaics in the church portrays the image of Abraham about to slay Isaac just next to an almost identical mosaic of Christ sprawled on the Unction Stone.
But at times, Christianity had also used Abraham’s image to look down at Jews. For example, Abraham started the circumcision custom after a revelation of God, telling him to bare the mark of belief on his body.
But neither Jews nor Christians know very much about Abraham’s role in Islam, which acknowledges the Torah narrative but with significant changes and additions. The Koran portrays Abraham as the first man to make full surrender to Allah each of the five repetitions of daily prayer ends with reference to him. It also relates to Abraham building the Ka’aba, the black cube that is Mecca’s central shrine. Infect, those who cant make the journey to the annual pilgrims festival in Mecca, offer a sacrifice of a goat or a lamb to commemorate the same sacrifice Jews feature at the New Year. It is the holiest single day in the Islamic calendar.
Only that the son of Abraham they refer to is not Isaac, but Ishmael, who was given to him by Hagar, his slave, who was later sent away with her son by the envious and childless Sarah who only had Isaac later with the blessing of God. Muslim scholars claim that it was Ishmael who was saved from being sacrificed at the last minute and not Isaac.
And so, Abraham is the only biblical figure who enjoys unanimous acclaim of all three faiths. This remarkable consensus makes him an interfaith superstar and a special resource in these times of anger and mistrust.

Naim Dangoor writes:
The idea of Monotheism was actually started not by Abraham but by the historical Adam of the Garden of Eden (at Aden) who started agriculture and is therefore the father of our civilisation. Abraham’s role was that he revived the idea of Monotheism that was falling into oblivion. Abraham also tried to prove scientifically the existence of God by noting the movements of some stars.




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