Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Tale of Four Sermons, Part I

In June of 2006 Louis Palme posted four sermons on the web site of He chose the first and final sermons from our Lord Jesus Christ, and the first and final recorded words of the Prophet Mohammed. They speak for themselves.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7)
Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them!
Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!
Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!
Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!
Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

Happy are you when the people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets before you were persecuted.

You are like salt for all mankind. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.
You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with – not until the end of all things. So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teachers others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. I tell you, then, you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.
You have heard that people were told in the past, “Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial. But now I tell you: whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial, whoever calls his brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Council, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.

You have heard that it was said, “Love your friends, hate your enemies.” But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the sons of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on the bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that ! You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Make sure you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Mohammed’s First Friday Sermon in Medina (Tabari, Vol. VII, No.1258)
Praise be to Allah. I praise him, and call on him for help, forgiveness and guidance. I believe in him, do not deny him and am an enemy of whoever denies him. I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah alone, without partner, and that Mohammed [sic] is his servant and his Messenger, whom he has sent with guidance, light and exhortation after an interval in the appearance of messengers, at a time when knowledge is scarce, men are led astray, time is cut short, the Last Hour is at hand and the End is close. Whoever obeys Allah and his Prophet has been rightly guided; whoever disobeys them has erred, been remiss and gone far astray. I recommend to you the fear of Allah, for the best thing which a Muslim can enjoin upon a Muslim is that he should exhort him to seek the Other World and command him to fear Allah. Beware of what Allah has warned you against concerning himself. There is no better advice than this and no better admonition. The fear of Allah, for whoever acts according to it in fear and dread of his Lord, is a trusty aid to what you desire of the Other World. He who sets aright what is between him and his Lord in secret and in public, seeking nothing thereby but the face of Allah, will be remembered in this world, and will have a treasure in that which is after death. Then a man will have need of that good which he has done previously; and as for that which is otherwise, he will wish that there was a great distance between him and it. Allah warns you to beware of himself, but Allah is merciful to his servants and to those who believe his word and fulfill his promises. Allah says: “The sentence that cometh from me cannot be changed, and I am in no wise a tyrant unto my servants.” Fear Allah, then, in this world and the next, in secret and in public. He who fears Allah will have his evil deeds forgiven and his reward magnified; he will achieve a great success. The fear of Allah will ward off Allah’s hatred and retribution and wrath. The fear of Allah will make people blameless in the sight of Allah, will please the Lord and will raise their degree. Seize hold of your portion, and do not be remiss with regard to Allah. Allah has caused you to know his Book and has opened his path before you in order that he may know those who speak the truth and those who lie. Act well, then, as Allah has acted well with you. Be enemies of his enemies, and strive on Allah’s behalf in the way to which he is entitled. He has chosen you and named you Muslims, “that he who perished (on that day) might perish by a clear proof (of his sovereignty) and he who survived might survive by clear proof.” There is no power but with Allah. Remember Allah frequently and act for the sake of that which is after today; for he who sets aright which is between him and Allah will have that which is between him and other men taken care of by Allah. That is because Allah pronounces judgment upon men whereas they do not pronounce judgment upon him, and because Allah rules men whereas they do not rule him. Allah is most great. There is no might but with Allah the great.

Happiness vs. Fear:
Jesus: mentions happiness 10 times
Mohammed: mentions fear 8 times, beware 2 times
Jesus: love your enemies
Mohammed: Be enemies of Allah’s enemies
Public worship:
Jesus: Do not perform your religious duties in public. Those who do so will not have any reward from God in heaven.
Mohammed: He who sets right with Allah in public and in private will be remembered in this world and will have treasure in the next.
Jesus: make peace with your brother
Mohammed: If you are right with Allah, what is between you and other men will be taken care of by Allah

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