Archive for October, 2009

The story of Joseph’s seduction and righteous response of purity is well known among all three Abrahamic faiths, for it is written of in both the Bible (Genesis 39) and the Qur’an (Surah 12 [Yusuf]). Recently some  emerging Muslim and Jewish leaders met to discuss this story in their traditions with a special emphasis on the woman who seduced him. In the Bible she is merely known as Potiphar’s wife, while in the Qur’an she is named Zuleikha (Potiphar is named al-Aziz). At altmuslimah two Muslim women and two Jewish women post their reflections about this story and its main antagonist.

Here are excerpts from each woman:

The “story of seduction” is therefore constructed to be more about Joseph’s irresistible beauty than it is about Zuleikha’s – or any female’s – charms. – Asma T. Uddin

At every step of the way, Zuleikha embodies the worst in human nature. Yet, of all the figures in the sura of Yusuf Joseph story, Zuleikha is the most real. . . She models what we all go through, the mistakes we make, our pettiness and bad humor, the hurt we inflict on those we love, how we take our own pain out on those around us. Zuleikha is a flesh-and-blood human being. She is our shadow, and as such, we must claim her and love her. – Homayra Ziad

It seems to me that both of these texts show Zuleikha in a negative light. But classical midrash was written by men, who have their own fears and agendas. Over the last few decades, however, a tradition of contemporary feminist midrash has arisen in Judaism. Jewish women have written stories and poems which give voice to Eve and Lilith, Sarah and Hagar, Rebecca and Rachel and Leah. I look forward to the day when Jewish women reclaim Zuleikha, too. – Rachel Barenblat

In the Bible, Potiphar’s wife (the Qur’anic “Zuleikha”) is portrayed as the consummate seductress of the young and beautiful Joseph. She joins the ranks of the other seductresses who tempt virtuous men. We recall Adam and Lilith, Samson and Delilah. In contrast to the Qur’an, Potiphar’s wife is not displayed as a complex character blinded by Joseph’s beauty, nor does she finally confess and repent for her sins. She is merely a foil for Joseph’s virtue. – Marion Lev-Cohen

HT: Talk Islam

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There are many things that Muslims and Christians disagree about. Much of this is owing to the simple fact that we believe different things. But some of the controversy also stems from not fully understanding one another. Perhaps periodic posts on such contentious issues would help us understand one another so that if we do disagree we at least know what we are disagreeing about! Hopefully it will also help us grow in discussing contentious issues with civility and respect. We don’t have to agree, but we do need to honor one another.

I would love for you to include any of these contentious issues you would like to discuss or learn more about in the comments section. As a follower of Jesus Christ from a Christian background I can readily think of many issues that I feel are misunderstood by Muslims. At the same time I am sure that I misunderstand many views held by Muslims. So I would really appreciate any Muslim readers to note in the comments issues that you feel are often misunderstood by Christians. I will gladly look into those issues and perhaps seek some guest posts from Muslim friends to help us better understand them (jihad comes to mind).

Lord willing, I will begin Monday with one of the most contentious issues: The Son of God.

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I was blessed when I read this. Perhaps you will be too.

Great peace have those who love your law,
nothing can make them stumble.
Psalm 119:165

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Who Speaks for Islam?


Link TV is presenting a new series called “Who Speaks for Islam?” hosted by Ray Suarez. You can watch the first episode, “What a Billion Muslims Really Think,” tonight on Link TV or online. The second episode, “Muslims on Screen,” will be aired November 1st and posted online (you can watch a preview now).

HT: Talk Islam

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Islam in Indonesia


If you have ever wondered how diverse Muslims can be, check out this National Geographic article on Muslims in Indonesia (the largest Muslim country in the world). They range from those who praise the 9/11 attacks and the Bali bombing to a transgender TV star beloved by conservative Muslims, from a female Sharia officer giving citations to men who fail to attend mosque on Friday to a man who is a Ki, a mystic who claims to have magical powers. All of them are Muslim and all of them take seriously their religion.

Here is one of the final paragraphs:

Ultimately, Indonesia may be simply too big and diverse to adhere to any narrow definition of Islam. Even something as secular as one Indonesian takeoff on American Idol can be a platform for Islamic variety. During a recent season, the final two contestants were both Muslim women. One wore a veil, one did not. No one seemed to care. Indonesia’s national motto, after all, is “Bhinneka tunggal ika—Unity in diversity.”

This should teach us to take care before we paint all Muslims with a broad stroke, just as others should take care before they do the same with those who call themselves Christians.

Also check out the great photo slide show.

HT: Talk Islam

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For Muslims and Christians

I just added two new pages to my blog. One is For Muslims and one is For Christians. I will update them periodically. Please check them out.


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Repentance is the hardest thing to learn because it requires the very thing that comes least naturally: humility. Yet it is a prerequisite to true peace (both with God and with each other). I saw the following on Zach’s blog and thought I would repost it here.

Chris Brauns:

The Bible says that God gives grace to the humble. Sometimes, being humble means saying “I am sorry” first.

Think about it. Don’t you find it relatively easy to apologize if the other person says, “I am sorry,” first? Saying it first is sometimes hard to swallow.

You would never claim perfection in marriage. You just believe your spouse was more wrong; he or she ought to say “I am sorry first.” Maybe you clattered your bowl into the kitchen sink and shut the door with a grumpy bang on your way to work this morning and left the milk out for good measure. What silly games we play.

Remember Proverbs 3:34 says, “God mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” Let your pride go. God mocks mighty mockers, but blesses the broken.

Do you want a special measure of God’s grace? Here is what you do. Flip open your phone and pound speed dial. Follow this script, “I am sorry, I was wrong, will you please forgive me.” Do not, I repeat, “do not,” find yourself continuing after the apology with a criticism of the other person.

You may or may not get a corresponding apology in response. But, you can be assured of the grace of God at work in your life. God blesses the broken.


(From Zach)
I have often wondered why I can hesitate to ask for forgiveness from my wife or anyone else when at the heart of the Gospel is my need to seek forgiveness from God through Christ. Seems as though this is a very common disconnect in our faith and practice. May it not be so.

The Gospel tells me I am a sinner. Do I believe it? If so, why is it a big shocker that I would need to ask forgiveness from someone on a horizontal level?

Related Posts:
Sin Destroys Peace
More on Repentance

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