Quick one: Death to America is not in the Quran
[ by Charles Cameron — a sign of the times? ]
Definitely of interest, implications to be discovered:
Wow. Isfahan v conservative city in #Iran “@NegarMortazavi: "Death to America is not in the Quran" Isfahan's friday prayer Imam told Fararu”
— Suzanne Kianpour (@KianpourWorld) September 30, 2013
Excellent theology, that, at the very least!
September 30th, 2013 at 9:43 pm
I am not yet persuaded of the excellence of the theology. Can “death to America” be inferred from context? For example, death to certain parties identified by category in the Koran may include America by implication. We must not be overly strict scriptural literalists. This is, after all, a living text which must illuminate us for centuries after it was drafted. If each person to whom death was directed had to be identified by name, there may be very few upon whom death is wished, which may be very far from the drafter’s intent. The Isfahan Friday prayer Imam’s facile and possibly superficial reading may fail to pick up the richer and fuller meaning which may legitimately be present, which may permit a wish of death to be inferred to many parties not specifically named. Lets not get hung up by an overly literal reading.
October 1st, 2013 at 2:00 am
Deliciously phrased, Lex, whether or not your reading of Islamic theology matches that of the Isphanai Imam.
My working assumption is that it’s really pretty much a political statement though, transmitted on behalf of higher clereical authority, perhaps as a trial balloon, perhaps as an indication of shifting strategy — and using a literal truth about scripture as a handy way of conveying the message.
In Sunni circles, the question of America’s presence in or absence from scripture revolves, I’m told, around the notion of the “Second ‘Ad” — David Cook has a chapter on America, the Second ‘Ad, and Its Downfall starting on p.150 of his Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature, but I’ll reference the paper on which it was based since I can easily cut’n’paste from it — America, The Second ‘Ad: Prophecies about the Downfall of the United States — and quote just this para from one Hisham Kamal `Abd al-Hamid:
That’s interesting because it admits that America is not literally mentioned in the Qur’an as such, but suggests that it is present none the less, inferentially — your point, I’d say. Cook’s paper has more detail.
Evangelical Christian end-times authors too face a similar question — I don’t know how many books I have that touch on the subject, but Terry James, The American Apocalypse: Is the United States in Bible Prophecy? was the first that came to hand on my shelves:
Same situation, same workaround. Lex, I think you may be onto something — let’s not get hung up by an overly literal reading!
Whoo, that was fun — I’d been thinking about adding some of that for context in my original post, and your comment caught me at the right moment and gave me my opportunity.
Does the Catholic Church have much in the way of present-day geopolitical interpretation of prophecy? I know St Augustine put a bit of a damper on that kind of thing back in the day, but I’m wondering whether there may not be a rising apocalyptic tide in (eg) some Marian-apparitionist circles?
October 1st, 2013 at 6:54 pm
“Does the Catholic Church have much in the way of present-day geopolitical interpretation of prophecy?” No. We don’t know the day or the hour. The warning of Fatima did not come true. The Pope was shot but did not die. This proves that even recognized Marian prophecy is monitory and admonitory, not inevitable. We are free to make our own future. Jesus himself phrased as a question whether anyone would believe when he returned. God handed us the keys. We are supposed to drive this thing. He will help. But its our ride and its ours to drive.
October 1st, 2013 at 9:54 pm
Officially the Church still rejects geopolitical prophecies, but implied in that is inevitable political turmoil with secularists
675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
October 2nd, 2013 at 12:02 am
Thanks. Not “knowing the day or the hour” hasn’t stopped people from having a sense of its imminence, however — even in the very early church!
October 4th, 2013 at 9:07 pm
Charles, agreed, but there was never any official pronouncement on the point. The Church is spared from such error of course. I just read Joseph Peiper’s Guide to Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas lived in an era when there was a lot of apocalyptic speculation going around. He rejected it out of hand. Correctly so.