Another Susanne topic!
Well, part of one. Susanne asked: "Your favorite Bible story, Quranic story, hadith, story from other
religions. Least favorites. Hardest stuff to understand from each.
Hardest things to give up if you converted to one or the other, etc."
And it's obviously more than one topic, but I thought I'd address a little bit of a few of them. Sort of.
So, Islam. Some of my favorite stories:
While not from either the Qur'an or the hadith (as far as I know - there are a lot of hadith, so I could be wrong here!), my absolute favorite story related to Islam is the story of Mohammed and Khadijah. Maybe it's the little girl in me who grew up with the idea that a prince was coming to rescue me someday, but there's something utterly dear and romantic to me in their relationship. I mean I understand that it's what's been related almost 2,000 years later, but it just seems so...not *perfect*, because no relationship is, but...lovely.
I don't think I really have a favorite story from the Qur'an itself. Though if I was forced to choose I think it would be the Qur'an's version of the sacrifice of Abraham. Mostly because, unlike the Biblical version, Ishmael shows awareness of what is happening and gives consent to being sacrificed. In the Bible it comes off as though Abraham dragged Isaac up to the top of a mountain and is going to kill him. Not that human sacrifice is a good thing, but at least in Ishmael's case he makes the decision himself rather than solely being a victim.
My favorite story from the hadith would be the story of Abraham and Ishmael's wives:
The Prophet (pbuh) continued: "After Ishmael's mother had died,
Abraham came after Ishmael's marriage in order to see his family that he
had left before but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked
Ishmael's wife about him, she replied: "He has gone in search of
livelihood." Then he asked her about their way of living and their
condition, and she replied, "We are living in misery; we are living in
hardship and destitution,' complaining to him. He said: "When your
husband returns, convey my salutations to him and tell him to change the
threshold of the gate (of his house).'
"When Ishmael came, he
seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife: 'Has anyone
visited you?' she replied, 'Yes, an old man of such and such
description came and asked me about you and I informed him and he asked
about our state of living and I told him that we were living in a
hardship and poverty.' On that Ishmael said: 'Did he advise you
anything?' She said: 'Yes he told me to convey his salutation to you and
to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.' Ishmael said: 'It
was my father and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your
family.' so, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from among
"Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period
as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find
Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael's wife and asked her about Ishmael. She
said: 'he has gone in sof our livelihood.' Abraham asked her; 'how are
you getting on?' asking her about their sustenance and living. she
replied: 'we are prosperous and well off (we have everything in
abundance).' then she thanked Allah. Abraham said: 'What kind of food do
you eat?' she said: 'meat.' he said: 'what do you drink?' she said:
'water.' he said: 'O Allah! bless their meat and water.""
Prophet (pbuh) added: "At that time they did not have grain, and if they
had grain he would have also invoked Allah to bless it. If somebody has
only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition
will be badly affected unless he lives in Mecca."
(pbuh) continued: "Then Abraham said to Ishmael's wife: 'When your
husband comes give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep
firm the threshold of his gate.' When Ishmael came back he asked his
wife, 'did anyone call on you?' she replied: 'yes, a good looking old
man came to me,' so she praised him and added: 'He asked about you and I
informed him that we were in a good condition.' Ishmael asked her:' did
he give you any piece of advice?' she said; 'yes, he told me to give
his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold
of your gate.' on that Ishmael said: 'It was my father, and you are the
threshold of the gate. He has ordered me to keep you with me.'
Sorry, I don't know what book of hadith this is from. :(
I actually, when I first learned of this hadith, had problems with it. Mostly because I had this impression of Abraham as a father who totally abandoned Ishmael and Hagar and then came by years later to rag on him for his choice of wives. However I understand the Islamic version of the story better now and I get that, at least from their perspective, Abraham didn't completely abandon them and then show up later. He spent time with Ishmael and there was every reason for him to respect his fathers' opinion. But that's not why I like it. Why I like it is because it touches on the concept (to me) of not gossiping, of not talking behind someone's back. And I think that that's very important.
Gossiping is just...terribly destructive. I hate it. It's so easy for people to hear wrong or to take what they hear and twist it and cause strife within any group. It serves no purpose at all except to cause harm. There is, of course, a difference between 'gossip' and warning people of danger, but I don't think that's necessary to get into right now.
I think I'll touch on other parts of the question tomorrow. It's almost time for me to go home and I don't think I'll have time to write on this any further tonight.