Sunday, July 30
Our purpose in life is to improve ourselves everyday and become happy. We do many things to gain happiness. However, most of the things we do to gain happiness may generate unhappiness, pain, suffering and trouble because our minds are not pure. It is the pure mind that can generate happiness, not the impure mind. Therefore, the first purpose of practicing meditation is to purify our mind; that generates peace and happiness.
The second purpose of meditation is to overcome sorrow and lamentation. When a meditator begins to see the truth he or she can bear and conquer sorrow and lamentation caused by impermanence.
The third purpose is to overcome suffering and disappointment caused by greed and hatred.
The fourth purpose of meditation is to tread the wise path, the correct path which leads to liberation from grief, sorrow, disappointment, pain and lamentation. This is the path of mindfulness - the only path that liberate us from suffering.
The fifth purpose of meditation is to liberate ourselves completely and totally from mental pain and defilements and to free our minds from greed, hatred and delusion.
These five purposes are very noble purposes. All other purposes of meditation may be overlooked because none of them is capable of generating these results making us really peaceful and happy by eliminating our problems. We don’t try to ignore or avoid them but mindfully we face and tackle them as they arise in our minds.
-Bhanta Henepola Gunaratana
Thursday, June 15
Thursday, March 9
20 IDEAS TO CRUSH OBAMACARE AND CURE AMERICA'S HEALTH CARE CRISIS
By: Daniel Horowitz | March 08, 2017
Ever wonder why heart surgery costs $106,000 in America but only $1,583 in India? Do you find the lack of an “Uber style revolution” in health care absurd?
In so many ways, health care and health insurance – and no, the two are not the same – have missed the great technological revolution. The reason? Big, bad government.
It’s time to bust apart the regulatory state that enriches the big government-big business cartel. And we can start with these 20 ideas on a state and federal level that kick government to the curb and return the power to consumers, entrepreneurs, and health care providers:
Health care reforms
End the medical malpractice boondoggle
Allow hospitals to turn away non-urgent illegal aliens
Offer a tax deduction for those providing health care to indigents
Reform FDA approval process … big time
Make more drugs available over the counter
Stop boxing out specialty hospitals with burdensome certifications
Expand who can deliver care so health providers have to compete for the customer
Promote telemedicine and other modern delivery systems
Break the AMA monopoly on medicine and prevention of for-profit healthcare
Repeal the HIPAA regulatory leviathan
Encourage health care providers to post prices online
Health insurance reforms
Tear down regulations
Promote health status insurance to deal with pre-existing conditions
Stop socially engineering employer-based insurance through the tax code and treat it the same as individual plans
Allow unlimited Health Savings Account spending
Let consumers and employers purchase health insurance plans across state lines
Permit individuals to pool together for group insurance
Change antitrust laws so Big Pharma’s stranglehold on competition is destroyed
Make Medicaid work with the market, not destroy it
Allow affluent seniors to opt out of Medicare
Health care reforms
1. End the medical malpractice boondoggle:
Medical malpractice is the 800-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to jacking up health care on the supply side, even before we get to insurance. Moving to a loser-pay system and capping non-economic damages will bring down the cost of medical malpractice insurance (which is passed down to the consumer) and the enormous gratuitous cost of defensive medicine. The extra margin of profit will decrease pressure on unsustainable hospital costs and allow doctors in out-patient clinics or offices to offer more bargains to their clients
2. Allow hospitals to turn away non-urgent illegal aliens:
Hospitals account for 32 percent of all health care spending in America. Aside from the problems with Medicaid, one of the big problems driving up costs is the prevalence of illegal aliens and indigent people who use emergency rooms for primary care. Once again, the culprit is government. In 1986, Congress passed The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) which forced health care providers to offer care to anyone irrespective of their ability to pay. While we obviously want to care for anyone with an urgent need, hospitals must be given discretion to turn away those who do not have an urgent need. This provision was part of “The Patient Option Act,” (H.R. 2900) introduced by former Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). Getting rid of this massive unfunded liability will curb skyrocketing hospital costs and improve access to emergency care.
3. Offer a tax deduction for those providing health care to indigents:
One of the ways for government to work with, not against, the market and civil society is to grant doctors the ability to write off any health care they provide to the indigent sick as a tax deduction.
4. Reform the FDA approval process … big time:
It takes years and well over a billion dollars for companies to develop a single drug due to the outdated FDA approval process. Aside from jacking up the price of drugs and preventing lifesaving cures, this process once again benefits large pharmaceuticals and serves as a bar for smaller companies to enter the field of R&D. The entire process needs to be streamlined, and the government needs to approve third-party certification organizations that would compete against each other in offering alternative certifications for medicines. They should also have an expedited process for approving drugs already in use in other developed countries. Furthermore, the FDA should create a parallel “preliminary approval” process for drugs that are not fully tested yet, but are given over to health care providers with the publicly advertised caveat that they are free to use at their own risk. See more FDA reforms in this article from The Heritage Foundation.
5. Make more drugs available over the counter:
Liberals love discussing marijuana legalization, but have supported needless regulations on basic drugs used for common ailments. Making more drugs available over the counter, such as cholesterol medication and contraception (yes, liberals, we’re looking at you), will drive down costs. Moreover, consumers would begin paying for more medicines out of pocket and be more cost conscious, which would have a further self-fulfilling deflationary effect on pricing.
6. Stop boxing out specialty hospitals with burdensome certifications:
Any health care provider who wants to innovate with specialty ideas or establish new hospitals are automatically confronted with the near-insurmountable “certificate of need” (CON), which requires them to undergo a cumbersome process of licensing. CON requirements exist on top of the regular licensing requirements and FDA regulations. Like most regulations and barriers to innovation in health care, they were created by the existing health care establishment and serve as a way to box out competition and new ideas.
7. Expand who can deliver care so health providers have to compete for the customer:
With the growth of health care extenders, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and optometrists, there is the potential for a revolutionary second tier of access to health care that will lower costs across the board while still providing quality care for many basic health care needs. At the behest of the big medical lobbies, states have imposed gratuitous restrictions on the scope of practice for extenders, thereby denying consumers more choice, competition, and cheaper options, especially for the poor. Health care professionals must have the opportunity to practice in the field up to the scope of their training and education without limitations engendered by lobbyist-driven greed.
8. Promote telemedicine and other modern delivery systems:
Much like e-commerce and online schooling, there is no reason more aspects of healthcare can’t be delivered electronically. This can lower labor costs and foster more competition and innovative ideas. But once again, burdensome licensing requirements and other regulations, imposed by lobbyists to protect the status quo, serve as an impediment to creating such competition. Even states like Texas bar doctors from issuing prescriptions without in-person visits, which are often gratuitous and needlessly over-utilize service while inflating costs.
9. Break the AMA monopoly on medicine and prevention of for-profit health care:
One of the biggest problems driving up costs in health care is the shortage of doctors, which is expected to grow in the coming years. One of the reasons for this shortage is that the federal and state governments have given the American Medical Association a complete monopoly over medical school accreditation and physician licensing the same way they allowed the American Bar Association to control (and destroy) the legal profession. As my colleague, Logan Albright has written, “[T]hese boards effectively function like government regulatory agencies, with the important difference that they lack the opportunity for public comments, and thus are immune from any political pressure from citizens.” They are also largely responsible for the “certificate of need” regime, restrictions on scope of practice, and barriers to telemedicine.
One of the worst incumbency protection rackets promoted in most states by the AMA is the restriction on “Corporate Practice of Medicine.” This doctrine has essentially prohibited private corporations from practicing medicine or employing health care providers. In some states, it has prevented hospitals from employing physicians to provide out-patient services.
This has created a non-profit monopoly over healthcare and is probably one of the single most impactful factors in preventing the Uber-ization and Walmart-ization of health care. As Professor John Cochrane explains, “About 70% of hospitals and 85% of health-care employment is in non-profits, whose legal and regulatory treatment protects much inefficiency from competition. If United [Airlines] didn’t have to pay taxes, Southwest’s job would have been that much harder.” Imagine if liberal lobbyists got states to box out FedEx and require the use of the U.S. Postal Service. These regulations need to be loosened.
10. Repeal the HIPAA regulatory leviathan:
The entire accountability side of the 1996 HIPAA law was rooted in the provisions of Hillarycare. Under the guise of combating medical fraud and protecting privacy, this unconstitutional federal power grab has essentially criminalized basic medicine in so many ways and has created a labyrinth of regulations and paper work that drive up the cost of health care at every level of the supply side. Its overzealous privacy regulations are a big culprit in preventing innovation in healthcare mobile communications. Given the existence of the already onerous state regulations, it’s time for Congress to repeal many of these provisions at the federal level.
11. Encourage health care providers to post prices online:
One of the biggest impediments to health care working like a competitive free market is the lack of price transparency. This has been fostered by the existing socialist system, which obliterated any desire to peg the costs to services actually rendered. By implementing a number of the aforementioned health insurance reforms and fostering more choice, competition, and individualized cost-conscious consumers, the natural outcome would be that consumers would gradually force health care providers to advertise their prices.
Health insurance reforms
12. Tear down regulations:
Between Obamacare’s coverage mandates and the pre-ACA state and federal regulatory apparatus, the insurance market is not only regulated but severely limited in what in can offer. It’s time to tear down those walls and encourage states to do the same. Any insurer should be able to offer any type of plan under any circumstance to any individual or group.
Let insurance companies experiment with new ideas that solve issues like pre-existing conditions. The insurance regulatory regime should be focused solely on enforcing the contracts insurers make with consumers.
Keeping regulations to a minimum will lower costs, remove the bar to entry for start-up insurance companies, break the Big Government/Big Pharma monopoly on health care, and foster even more competition, choice, and cost transparency.
13. Promote health status insurance to deal with pre-existing conditions:
One specific area of insurance that the federal government should leave completely free of regulation is any idea to solve the problem of pre-existing conditions through the marketplace. One proposed solution is health status insurance, broadly popularized by University of Chicago Professor John Cochrane.
These plans would work much like life insurance: Consumers purchase an insurance plan to cover potential changes in their “health status” that would otherwise jack up premiums or make it hard to purchase new coverage. Parents could take out plans for children before they join the workforce — or even unborn babies — at dirt cheap rates. Let's say Tom and his family have health status insurance. Tom's daughter develops asthma and his wife is diagnosed with high blood pressure. Their health insurance rates go up. But, health status insurance kicks in to pay the higher premiums. Alternatively, Tom would receive a lump sum payout to be managed in a trust-style account to directly pay the health care costs. He could purchase specific options or riders for varying health anomalies (diabetes, heart disease, cancer). The options are endless.
Health status insurance will encourage insurance companies to offer tailor-made health plans or multi-year contracts that will protect those who later develop chronic conditions. Health insurance will become portable and untethered to employment decisions, a change in health status, relocation, or young adults moving off their parent’s plan.
14. Stop socially engineering employer-based insurance through the tax code and treat it the same as individual plans:
The original sin of government intervention in health care was the creation of the employer tax exclusion for health insurance. It is truly the pre-existing condition to most market inefficiencies in health care.
Born out of WWII-era wage controls, the federal government essentially codified insurance as part of salaries with a tax exemption for employer-provided health insurance officially created by a 1954 IRS reform bill. The distortion to both the labor market and the insurance market has been cataclysmic. Every year, roughly $275 billion is pumped into over-utilizing and distorting the product of health insurance rather than increasing wages.
Those who purchase insurance privately are at a disadvantage, and people are reliant on their employment situations for insurance. This kills entrepreneurship and discourages job mobility, especially for someone who develops health problems while grandfathered into an employer-provided plan.
Other forms of insurance let customers establish long-term relationships with the insurer and customers are eligible for discounts. Employer-based health insurance removes the personal element that tailors plans to the individual and could potentially encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Ideally, we would repeal this market distortion and remit the $275 billion in new revenue back in the form of an across-the-board business tax cut. This would create jobs, raise wages, decouple insurance from employment, massively reduce inflationary pressure on insurance, and flood the individual market with choice and competition. Politically speaking, however, people are so accustomed to getting their insurance “taken care of” by the employer that they might not appreciate the net benefit in earnings.
The next-best option is to grant individuals who purchase insurance in the private market the same tax deduction afforded to employer-sponsored insurance. This will 1) incentivize savings, 2) cut overutilization, 3) grow wages and jobs, 4) create downward pressure on prices and relieve those in the individual market, and 5) further lower prices by encouraging more people to purchase insurance. With lower prices and numerous options in the individual market, coupled with a tax deduction and expanded HSAs, many individuals will take their full salary from their employer and cost-consciously purchase their own private, portable plan.
15. Allow unlimited Health Savings Account (HSA) spending:
HSAs have been one of the few health care success stories in recent years. Customers are allowed to put up to $6,500 in tax-free income into an account that is then used to cover health care costs. Unfortunately, that limit is way too small, and HSAs cannot be used to cover premiums under current law. Allowing them to cover anything up to $12,000 for a family would go a long way towards forcing individuals to make cost conscious decisions, and would further decrease prices. This would represent a massive $9 trillion tax cut, and would reallocate money from inefficient, over-utilized fourth-party payers of insurance to cost-conscious consumers.
16. Let consumers and employers purchase health insurance plans across state lines:
If insurance is enough of an interstate commerce issue to regulate people into oblivion at a federal level, then the federal government should be able to invoke the Commerce Clause to tear down the barriers to purchasing insurance across state lines. Indeed the Supreme Court has said as much [United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association, 1944]. This will foster massive competition, make insurance portable, and together with individualizing insurance through equal tax treatment and expanded HSAs, will save many individuals who get sick later in life after moving to different states from the problem of pre-existing conditions.
Not only will this reform create a more competitive national market, but it will induce states with a costly regulatory burden to get with the program and relax their regulations to compete with the more pro-consumer states. It will also create momentum for states to ease regulations on tele-medicine from out-of-state providers.
17. Permit all individuals to pool together for group insurance:
One way to lure people away from the non-portable employer-based model is to allow individual neighbors and friends to create associations and negotiate directly with insurance companies just like employers do. Breaking down any such regulatory barrier will, in conjunction with the advent of a tax deduction for personal insurance, encourage many people to claim their full salary (without withholdings for employee-contribution to employer-provided insurance) and opt to buy their own private insurance, albeit with the improved negotiating power of pooled resources.
18. Change antitrust laws so Big Pharma’s stranglehold on competition is destroyed:
Leave it to government to regulate insurance to death but exempt the industry from the one regulation that is actually needed to foster a true free market. The McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 exempted the insurance industry from antitrust laws and made it almost impossible for insurance start-ups to open new businesses and compete. In conjunction with onerous regulations crafted by the few insurance companies and their lobbyists, the bar to entry is insurmountable and creates a pro-incumbency bias towards existing pharma lobbyists. Repealing the antitrust exemption while eliminating most other regulations is the perfect mix to foster maximum competition, cut lobbyists and government out of price controls, and allow consumers to control the market.
19. Make Medicaid work with the market, not destroy it:
Imagine what would happen to the price of home or auto insurance if the federal and state governments were responsible for 50 percent of the payments. Prices would skyrocket for those who want to pay for the policies on their own. That is exactly what has happened in health care —state and federal governments are responsible for over half of all insurance payments. While it’s hard to reform all of these programs in the span of one presidency, we must at least begin with Medicaid.
The combined federal-state expenditure for Medicaid is approaching $600 billion, and is responsible for 17 percent of health care spending. It is also responsible for inflating the cost of hospital care, which by itself is the single biggest cost to our health care system. The cost of covering an individual in the subpar Medicaid program was $3,247 per individual in 2011 before Obamacare was enacted. In 2015, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, the cost of enrolling an individual in Medicaid doubled to $6,366 per individual. And that is only for the second year of implementation. The cycle of regulations, public funding, overutilization, and an inability to peg the cost to the service has created a circuitous death spiral of unaffordable costs and unsustainable subsidies. It’s nothing but a handout to hospitals and insurers promoted by their lobbyists.
Converting Medicaid into a voucher program that allows low-income individuals to purchase the plan of their choice and rewards them for making cost-conscious choices will go a long way in curing the death spiral of costs. Then, giving Medicaid funds to states in a “block grant” — one lump sum with no conditions attached — will allow individual states to further innovate in cutting costs because they would no longer have the enticement of unlimited matching funds commensurate with their spending binge, but would be unshackled from the federal regulations.
20. Allow affluent seniors to opt out of Medicare:
This is one simple Medicare reform that is a political slam-dunk. Under current law, every senior must enroll in Medicare Part A (hospitalization) or forfeit their right to Social Security. It simply makes no sense to force wealthier seniors off private insurance if they are willing to forfeit a benefit and cut the federal budget while not contributing to the overutilization of health care.
Once government and the lobbyists they support are out of the way, there is no limit to the innovation that can take place. There are obviously some elements of health care that will never work exactly like Netflix or iPhones, but opening the market up to private sector innovative ideas and competition will create growing momentum for choice, competition, and efficiency. As with so many other aspects of the economy, consumers will be the ultimate winners.
There is no middle ground with this problem.
We either double down on the counterintuitive pursuit of universal coverage or we focus on lowering costs and restoring the concept of insurance to health insurance. Either we believe we can tax, regulate, mandate, and subsidize our way into solvency and prosperity or we marshal efficient modern market forces to innovate and grow wealth. After 70 years of trying the other side’s ideas, isn’t it time for a change?
Monday, February 6
‘Isa, the Muslim Jesus
By Dr Mark Durie
"The word Christian is not a valid word, for there is no religion of Christianity according to Islam". — www.answering-christianity.com
Today we increasingly hear and read that Christianity and Islam ‘share’ Jesus, that he belongs to both religions. So also with Abraham: there is talk of the West’s ‘Abrahamic civilization’ where once people spoke of ‘Judeo-Christian civilization’. This shift of thinking reflects the growing influence of Islam.
These notes offer some information and reflections on the ‘Muslim Jesus’, to help put this trend in its proper context.
References in brackets are to the Qur’an. Numbering systems for the Qur’anic verses are not standardized: be prepared to search through nearby verses for the right one.
Islam the primordial faith
Islam regards itself, not as a subsequent faith to Judaism and Christianity, but as the primordial religion, the faith from which Judaism and Christianity are subsequent developments. In the Qur’an we read that Abraham ‘was not a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a monotheist, a Muslim’ (Âl 'Imran 3:66). So it is Muslims, and not Christians or Jews, who are the true representatives of the faith of Abraham to the world today. (Al-Baqarah 2:135)
The Biblical prophets were all Muslims
Many prophets of the past received the one religion of Islam. (Ash-Shura 42:13) Who were these previous prophets? According to Al-An’am 6:85-87 they include Ibrahim (Abraham), ‘Ishaq (Issac), Yaqub (Jacob), Nuh (Noah), Dawud (David), Sulaiman (Solomon), Ayyub (Job), Yusuf (Joseph), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron), Zakariyya (Zachariah), Yahya (John the Baptist), ‘Isa (Jesus), Ilyas, Ishmael, Al-Yash’a (Elisha), Yunus (Jonah) and Lut (Lot).
The Muslim ‘Isa (Jesus)
There are two main sources for ‘Isa, the Muslim Jesus. The Qur’an gives a history of his life, whilst the Hadith collections — recollections of Muhammad’s words and deeds — establish his place in the Muslim understanding of the future.
‘Isa, was a prophet of Islam
Jesus’ true name, according to the Qur’an, was ‘Isa. His message was pure Islam, surrender to Allah. (Âl 'Imran 3:84) Like all the Muslim prophets before him, and like Muhammad after him, ‘Isa was a lawgiver, and Christians should submit to his law. (Âl 'Imran 3:50; Al-Ma’idah 5:48) ‘Isa’s original disciples were also true Muslims, for they said ‘We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered. We are Muslims.’ (Al-Ma’idah 5:111)
Like other messengers of Islam before him, ‘Isa received his revelation of Islam in the form of a book. (Al-An’am 6:90) ‘Isa’s book is called the Injil or ‘gospel’. (Al-Ma’idah 5:46) The Torah was Moses’ book, and the Zabur (Psalms) were David’s book. So Jews and Christians are ‘people of the Book’. The one religion revealed in these books was Islam. (Âl 'Imran 3:18)
As with previous prophets, ‘Isa’s revelation verified previous prophets’ revelations. (Âl 'Imran 3:49,84; Al-Ma’idah 5:46; As-Saff 61:6) Muhammad himself verified all previous revelations, including the revelation to ‘Isa (An-Nisa’ 4:47), and so Muslims must believe in the revelation which ‘Isa received. (Al-Baqarah 2:136) However, after ‘Isa the Injil was lost in its original form. Today the Qur’an is the only sure guide to ‘Isa’s teaching.
The biography of ‘Isa
According to the Qur’an, ‘Isa was the Messiah. He was supported by the ‘Holy Spirit’. (Al-Baqarah 2:87; Al-Ma’idah 5:110) He is also referred to as the ‘Word of Allah’. (An-Nisa’ 4:171)
‘Isa’s mother Mariam was the daughter of ‘Imran, (Âl 'Imran 3:34,35) — cf the Amram of Exodus 6:20 — and the sister of Aaron (and Moses). (Maryam 19:28) She was fostered by Zachariah (father of John the Baptist). (Âl 'Imran 3:36) While still a virgin (Al-An’am 6:12; Maryam 19:19-21) Mariam gave birth to ‘Isa alone in a desolate place under a date palm tree. (Maryam 19:22ff) (Not in Bethlehem).
‘Isa spoke whilst still a baby in his cradle. (Âl 'Imran 3:46; Al-Ma’idah 5:110; Maryam 19:30) He performed various other miracles, including breathing life into clay birds, healing the blind and lepers, and raising the dead. (Âl 'Imran 3:49; Al-Ma’idah 5:111) He also foretold the coming of Muhammad. (As-Saff 61:6)
‘Isa did not die on a cross
Christians and Jews have corrupted their scriptures. (Âl 'Imran 3:74-77, 113) Although Christians believe ‘Isa died on a cross, and Jews claim they killed him, in reality he was not killed or crucified, and those who said he was crucified lied (An-Nisa’ 4:157). ‘Isa did not die, but ascended to Allah. (An-Nisa’ 4:158) On the day of Resurrection ‘Isa himself will be a witness against Jews and Christians for believing in his death. (An-Nisa’ 4:159)
Christians should accept Islam, and all true Christians will
Christians (and Jews) could not be freed from their ignorance until Muhammad came bringing the Qur’an as clear evidence (Al-Bayyinah 98:1). Muhammad was Allah’s gift to Christians to correct misunderstandings. They should accept Muhammad as Allah’s Messenger, and the Qur’an as his final revelation. (Al-Ma’idah 5:15; Al-Hadid 57:28; An-Nisa’ 4:47)
Some Christians and Jews are faithful and believe truly. (Âl 'Imran 3:113,114) Any such true believers will submit to Allah by accepting Muhammad as the prophet of Islam, i.e. they will become Muslims. (Âl 'Imran 3:198)
Although Jews and pagans will have the greatest enmity against Muslims, it is the Christians who will be ‘nearest in love to the believers’, i.e. to Muslims. (Al-Ma’idah 5:82) True Christians will not love Muhammad’s enemies. (Al-Mujadilah 58:22) In other words, anyone who opposes Muhammad is not a true Christian.
Christians who accept Islam or refuse it
Some Jews and Christians are true believers, accepting Islam: most are transgressors. (Âl 'Imran 3:109)
Many monks and rabbis are greedy for wealth and prevent people from coming to Allah. (At-Taubah 9:34,35)
Christians and Jews who disbelieve in Muhammad will go to hell. (Al-Bayyinah 98:6)
Muslims should not take Christians or Jews for friends. (Al-Ma’idah 5:51) They must fight against Christians and Jews who refuse Islam until they surrender, pay the poll-tax and are humiliated. (At-Taubah 9:29) To this may be added hundreds of Qur’anic verses on the subject of jihad in the path of Allah, as well as the ‘Book of Jihad’ found in all Hadith collections.
Christians are commanded not to believe that ‘Isa is the son of God: ‘It is far removed from his transcendent majesty that he should have a son’. (An-Nisa’ 4:171; Al-Furqan 25:2) ‘Isa was simply a created human being, and a slave of Allah. (An-Nisa’ 4:172; Âl 'Imran 3:59)
Christians are claimed by the Qur’an to believe in a family of gods — Father God, mother Mary and ‘Isa the son — but ‘Isa rejected this teaching. (Al-Ma’idah 5:116) The doctrine of the Trinity is disbelief and a painful doom awaits those who believe it. (Al-Ma’idah 5:73)
‘Isa (Jesus) in the Hadith
‘Isa the destroyer of Christianity
The prophet ‘Isa will have an important role in the end times, establishing Islam and making war until he destroys all religions save Islam. He shall kill the Evil One (Dajjal), an apocalyptic anti-Christ figure.
In one tradition of Muhammad we read that no further prophets will come to earth until ‘Isa returns as ‘a man of medium height, or reddish complexion, wearing two light garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head although it will not be wet. He will fight for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill pigs, and abolish the poll-tax. Allah will destroy all religions except Islam. He (‘Isa) will destroy the Evil One and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die’. (Sunan Abu Dawud, 37:4310) The Sahih Muslim has a variant of this tradition: ‘The son of Mary ... will soon descend among you as a just judge. He will ... abolish the poll-tax, and the wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept charitable gifts.’ (Sahih Muslim 287)
What do these sayings mean? The cross is a symbol of Christianity. Breaking crosses means abolishing Christianity. Pigs are associated with Christians. Killing them is another way of speaking of the destruction of Christianity. Under Islamic law the poll-tax buys the protection of the lives and property of conquered ‘people of the Book’. (At-Taubah 9:29) The abolition of the poll-tax means jihad is restarted against Christians (and Jews) living under Islam, who should convert to Islam, or else be killed or enslaved. The abundance of wealth refers to booty flowing to the Muslims from this conquest. This is what the Muslim ‘Isa will do when he returns in the last days.
Muslim jurists confirm these interpretations: consider, for example, the ruling of Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368).
"... the time and the place for [the poll tax] is before the final descent of Jesus (upon whom be peace). After his final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus' descent (upon him and our Prophet be peace) ..." (The Reliance of the Traveller. Trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, p. 603).
Ibn Naqib goes on to state that when Jesus returns, he will rule ‘as a follower’ of Muhammad.
Critical Comments on the Muslim ‘Isa (Jesus)
‘Isa not an historical figure
The Qur’an’s ‘Isa is not an historical figure. His identity and role as a prophet of Islam is based solely on supposed revelations to Muhammad over half a millennium after the Jesus of history lived and died.
Jesus’ name was never ‘Isa
Jesus’ mother tongue was Aramaic. In his own lifetime he was called Yeshua in Aramaic, and Jesu in Greek. This is like calling the same person John when speaking English and Jean when speaking French: Jesu, pronounced "Yesoo", is the Greek form of Aramaic Yeshua. (The final -s in Jesu-s is a Greek grammatical ending.) Yeshua is itself a form of Hebrew Yehoshua’, which means ‘the Lord is salvation’. However Yehoshua’ is normally given in English as Joshua. So Joshua and Jesus are variants of the same name.
It is interesting that Jesus' name Yehoshua’ contains within it the proper Hebrew name for God, the first syllable Yeh- being short for YHWH ‘the LORD’.
Yeshua of Nazareth was never called ‘Isa, the name the Qur’an gives to him. Arab-speaking Christians refer to Jesus as Yasou’ (from Yeshua) not ‘Isa.
Jesus did not receive a ‘book’
According to the Qur’an, the ‘book’ revealed to ‘Isa was the Injil. The word Injil is a corrupted form of the Greek euanggelion ‘good news’ or gospel. What was this euanggelion? This was just how Jesus referred to his message: as good news. The expression euanggelion did not refer to a fixed revealed text, and there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus received a ‘book’ of revelation from God.
The ‘gospels’ of the Bible are biographies
The term euanggelion later came to be used as a title for the four biographies of Jesus written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the ‘gospels’. This was a secondary development of meaning. Apparently this is where Muhammad got his mistaken idea of the Injil being a ‘book’.
Most so-called prophets of Islam received no book
Virtually all of the so-called ‘prophets’ of Islam, whose names are taken from the Hebrew scriptures, received no ‘book’ or law code. For example, the Psalms are not a book revealing Islam, as the Qur’an claims, but a collection of songs of worship, only some of which are David’s. There is not a shred of evidence in the Biblical history of David that he received a book of laws for the Israelites. They already had the Torah of Moses to follow. So David was not a prophet in the Qur’an’s sense of this word. Likewise most of the prophets claimed by Islam were neither lawgivers nor rulers.
Biblical prophecy and Islamic prophecy are not the same thing
The Biblical understanding of prophecy is quite different from Muhammad’s. A Biblical prophecy is not regarded as a passage from a heavenly eternally pre-existent text like the Qur’an, but a message from God for a specific time and place. A biblical prophet is someone to whom God reveals hidden things, and who then acts as God’s verbal agent. When a Samaritan woman called Jesus a prophet (John 4:19) it was because he had spoken about things in her life that he could only have known supernaturally. Christianity teaches that Jesus was a prophet, but he brought no ‘book’: he himself was the living ‘Word of God’, a title used of ‘Isa in the Qur’an.
By no means all prophecies referred to in the Bible became part of the Biblical text. The Bible consists of a wide variety of materials originally written for many different purposes, including letters, songs, love poetry, historical narratives, legal texts, proverbial wisdom as well as prophetic passages. These are regarded as inspired by God, but not dictated from a timeless heavenly book.
As prophetic history, the Qur’an contains many errors and anachronisms
The claim that Jesus was not executed by crucifixion is without any historical support. One of the things that all the early sources agree on is Jesus’ crucifixion.
Mariam the mother of ‘Isa is called a sister of Aaron, and also the daughter of Aaron’s father ‘Imran (Hebr. Amram). Clearly Muhammad has confused Mary (Hebr. Miriam) with Miriam of the Exodus. The two lived more than a thousand years apart!
In the Bible Haman is the minister of Ahasuerus in Media and Persia (The Book of Esther 3:1-2). Yet the Qur’an places him over a thousand years earlier, as a minister of Pharoah in Egypt.
The claim that Christians believe in three Gods — Father, son Jesus and mother Mary — is mistaken. The Qur’an is also mistaken to claim that Jews say Ezra was a son of God. (At-Taubah 9:30) The charge of polytheism against Christianity and Judaism is ill-informed and false. (Deuteronomy 6:4, James 2:19a)
The story of the ‘two horned one’ (Al-Kahf 18:82 cf also Daniel 8:3, 20-21) is derived from the Romance of Alexander. Certainly Alexander the Great was no Muslim.
The problem with the name ‘Isa has already been discussed. Other Biblical names are also misunderstood in the Qur’an, and their meanings lost. For example Elisha, which means ‘God is salvation’, is given in the Qur’an as al-Yash’a, turning El ‘God’ into al- ‘the’. (Islamic tradition did the same to Alexander the Great, calling him al-Iskandar ‘the Iskander’). Abraham ‘Father of many’ (cf Genesis 17:5) might have been better represented as something like Aburahim ‘father of mercy’ instead of Ibrahim, which has no meaning in Arabic at all.
The Qur’an has a Samaritan making the golden calf, which was worshipped by the Israelites in the wilderness (Ta Ha 20:85) during the Exodus. In fact it was Aaron (Exodus 34:1-6). The Samaritans did not exist until several centuries later. They were descendants of the northern Israelites centuries after the Exodus.
Many Qur’anic stories can be traced to Jewish and Christian folktales and other apocryphal literature. For example a story of Abraham destroying idols (As-Saffat 37) is found in a Jewish folktale, the Midrash Rabbah. The Qur’anic story of Zachariah, father of John the Baptist, is based upon a second-century Christian fable. The story of Jesus being born under a palm tree is also based on a late fable, as is the story of Jesus making clay birds come alive. Everything the Qur’an says about the life of Jesus which is not found in the Bible can be traced to fables composed more than a hundred years after Jesus’ death.
Jesus’ titles of Messiah and Word of God, which the Qur’an uses, find no explanation in the Qur’an. Yet in the Bible, from which they are taken, these titles are well integrated in a whole theological system.
The Qur’an mentions the Holy Spirit in connection with Jesus, using phrases which come from the gospels. Ibn Ishaq (Life of Muhammad) reports Muhammad as saying that this ‘Spirit’ was the angel Gabriel (cf also An-Nahl 16:102, Al-Baqarah 2:97). However the Biblical phrase ‘Spirit of God’ (Ruach Elohim) or ‘Holy Spirit’ can only be understood in light of the Hebrew scriptures. It certainly does not refer to an angel.
Jesus’ alleged foretelling of Muhammad’s coming (As-Saff 61:6) appears to be based on a garbled reading of John 14:26, a passage which in fact refers to the Spirit.
The Hebrew scriptures were Jesus’ Bible. He affirmed their authority and reliability and preached from them. From these same scriptures he knew God as Adonai Elohim, the Lord God of Israel. He did not call God Allah, which appears to have been the name or title of a pagan Arabian deity worshipped in Mecca before Muhammad. Muhammad's pagan father, who died before Muhammad was born, already bore the name ‘Abd Allah ‘slave of Allah’, and his uncle was called Obeid Allah.
We read that An-Najm 53:19-23 seeks to refute the pagan Arab belief that Allah had daughters named al-Uzza, al-Ilat and Manat. (See also An-Nahl 16:57 and Al-An’am 6:100).
The Biblical narratives are rich with historical details, many confirmed by archaeology. They cover more than a thousand years, and reveal a long process of technological and cultural development. In contrast the Qur’an’s sacred history is devoid of archaeological support. Its fragmentary and disjointed stories offer no authentic reflection of historical cultures. No place name from ancient Israel is mentioned, not even Jerusalem. Many of the supposed historical events reported in the Qur’an have no independent verification. For example we are told that Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba in Mecca (Al-Baqarah 2:127), but this is totally without support. The Biblical account, more than a thousand years older, does not place Abraham anywhere near Arabia.
The Qur’an is not a credible source for Biblical history
The Qur’an, written in the 7th century AD, cannot be regarded as having any authority whatsoever to inform us about Jesus of Nazareth. It offers no evidence for its claims about biblical history. Its numerous historical errors reflect a garbled understanding of the Bible.
Islam appropriates the history of Judaism and Christianity to itself
When Muhammad linked the name of Allah to the religious histories of Judaism and Christianity, this was a way to claim them for Islam. In the light of later events, the claim that Islam was the original religion, and that all preceding prophets were Muslims, can be regarded as an attempt to appropriate the histories of other religions for Islam. The effect is to rob Christianity and Judaism of their own histories.
Consider that many Biblical sites, such as the tombs of the Hebrew Patriarchs and the Temple Mount, are claimed by Islam as Muslim sites, not Jewish or Christian ones. After all, the Qur’an tells us that Abraham ‘was a Muslim’. Under Islamic rule all Jews and Christians were banned from such sites.
The place of the Jewish scriptures in Christianity is completely different from the place of the Bible in Islam
There is a fundamental difference between Christian attitudes to the Jewish scriptures and Islamic attitudes to the Bible. Christians accept the Hebrew scriptures. They were the scriptures of Jesus and the apostles. They were the scriptures of the early church. The whole of Christian belief and practice rests upon them. Core Christian concepts such as ‘Messiah’ (Greek ‘Christos’), ‘Spirit of God’, ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘salvation’ are deeply rooted in the Hebrew Biblical traditions.
We note also that Christian seminaries devote considerable effort to studying the Hebrew scriptures. This is an integral part of training for Christian ministry. The Hebrew scriptures are read (in translation) every Sunday in many churches all around the world.
In contrast Islam’s treatment of the Bible is one of complete disregard. Although it purports to ‘verify’ all earlier prophetic revelation, the Qur’an is oblivious to the real contents of the Bible. The claim that Christians and Jews deliberately corrupted their scriptures is made without evidence, and this only serves to cover up the Qur’an’s historical inadequacies. Muslim scholars rarely have an informed understanding of the Bible or of biblical theology and so remain ignorant of these realities.
Some contemporary Muslim voices on Jesus
Yasser Arafat, addressing a press conference at the United Nations in 1983 called Jesus "the first Palestinian fedayeen who carried his sword" (i.e. he was a freedom fighter for Islam).
Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi, employee of the Palestinian Authority, broadcast live in April 2002 on Palestinian Authority television: "The Jews await the false Jewish messiah, while we await, with Allah's help... Jesus, peace be upon him. Jesus's pure hands will murder the false Jewish messiah. Where? In the city of Lod, in Palestine."
Author Shamim A. Siddiqi of Flushing, New York put the classical position of Islam towards Christianity clearly in a recent letter to Daniel Pipes, New York Post columnist:
"Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were all prophets of Islam. Islam is the common heritage of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim community of America, and establishing the Kingdom of God is the joint responsibility of all three Abrahamic faiths. Islam was the din (faith, way of life) of both Jews and Christians, who later lost it through human innovations. Now the Muslims want to remind their Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters of their original din [religion]. These are the facts of history."
This historical negationism — appearing to affirm Christianity and Judaism whilst in fact rejecting and supplanting them — is a lynchpin of Muslim apologetics. What is being affirmed is in fact neither Christianity nor Judaism, but Jesus as a prophet of Islam, Moses as a Muslim etc. This is intended to lead to ‘reversion’ of Christians and Jews to Islam, which is what Siddiqi refers to when he speaks of ‘the joint responsibility’ of Jews and Christians to establish ‘the Kingdom of God’. By this he means that American Christians and Jews should work to establish shari’ah law and the rule of Islam in the United States.
‘Isa (Jesus) of the Qur’an is a product of fable, imagination and ignorance. When Muslims venerate this ‘Isa, they have someone different in mind from the Yeshua or Jesus of the Bible and of history. The ‘Isa of the Qur’an is based on no recognized form of historical evidence, but on fables current in seventh century Arabia.
For most faithful Muslims ‘Isa is the only Jesus they know. But if one accepts this Muslim ‘Jesus’, then one also accepts the Qur’an: one accepts Islam. Belief in this ‘Isa is won at the cost of the libel that Jews and Christians have corrupted their scriptures, a charge that is without historical support. Belief in this ‘Isa implies that much of Christian and Jewish history is in fact Islamic history.
The Jesus of the gospels is the base upon which Christianity developed. By Islamicizing him, and making of him a Muslim prophet who preached the Qur’an, Islam destroys Christianity and takes over all its history. It does the same to Judaism.
In the end times as described by Muhammad, ‘Isa becomes a warrior who will return with his sword and lance. He will destroy the Christian religion and make Islam the only religion in all the world. Finally at the last judgement he will condemn Christians to hell for believing in the crucifixion and the incarnation.
This final act of the Muslim ‘Isa reflects Islam’s apologetic strategy in relation to Christianity, which is to deny the Yeshua of history, and replace him with a facsimile of Muhammad, so that nothing remains but Islam.
"The Muslim supersessionist current claims that the whole biblical history of Israel and Christianity is Islamic history, that all the Prophets, Kings of Israel and Judea, and Jesus were Muslims. That the People of the Book should dare to challenge this statement is intolerable arrogance for an Islamic theologian. Jews and Christians are thus deprived of their Holy Scriptures and of their salvific value."
— Bat Ye’or in Islam and Dhimmitude: where civilizations collide, p.370.
APPENDIX: The historical evidence for Jesus (Yeshua)
of Nazareth and his death by crucifixion
Non-Christian sources for Jesus
• Tacitus (AD 55-120), a renowned historical of ancient Rome, wrote in the latter half of the first century that ‘Christus ... was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.’ (Annals 15: 44).
• Suetonius writing around AD 120 tells of disturbances of the Jews at the ‘instigation of Chrestus’, during the time of the emperor Claudius. This could refer to Jesus, and appears to relate to the events of Acts 18:2, which took place in AD 49.
• Thallus, a secular historian writing perhaps around AD 52 refers to the death of Jesus in a discussion of the darkness over the land after his death. The original is lost, but Thallus’ arguments — explaining what happened as a solar eclipse — are referred to by Julius Africanus in the early 3rd century.
• Mara Bar-Serapion, a Syrian writing after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, mentions the earlier execution of Jesus, whom he calls a ‘King’.
• The Babylonian Talmud refers to the crucifixion (calling it a hanging) of Jesus the Nazarene on the eve of the Passover. In the Talmud Jesus is also called the illegitimate son of Mary.
• The Jewish historian Josephus describes Jesus’ crucifixion under Pilate in his Antiquities, written about AD 93/94. Josephus also refers to James the brother of Jesus and his execution during the time of Ananus (or Annas) the high priest.
• Paul’s epistles were written in the interval 20-30 years after Jesus’ death. They are valuable historical documents, not least because they contain credal confessions which undoubtedly date to the first few decades of the Christian community.
Paul became a believer in Jesus within a few years of Jesus’ crucifixion. He writes in his first letter to the Corinthians ‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he was seen by Cephas (Peter), then by the twelve.’ This makes clear that belief in the death of Jesus was there from the beginning of Christianity.
The four gospels
• The four gospels were written down in the period 20-60 years after Jesus’ death, within living memory of the events they describe.
The events which the gospels describe for the most part took place in the full light of public scrutiny. Jesus’ teaching was followed by large crowds. There were very many witnesses to the events of his life. His death was a public execution.
Manuscript evidence for the Bible and its transmission
The manuscript evidence for the Greek scriptures is overwhelming, far greater than for all other ancient texts. Over 20,000 manuscripts attest to them. Whilst there are copying errors, as might be expected from the hand of copyists, these are almost all comparatively minor and the basic integrity of the copying process is richly supported.
Futhermore, when Western Christians studies the Hebrew scriptures during the Renaissance, they found them to agree remarkably closely with their Greek and Latin translations which had been copied again and again over a thousand years. There were copying errors, and some other minor changes, but no significant fabrications of the stupendous scale which would be required to concoct the story of Jesus’ death.
Likewise when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered they included Hebrew Biblical scrolls dating from before the time of Jesus. These too agreed very closely with the oldest Hebrew Masoretic manuscripts of more than a thousand years later. Again, no fabrications, but evidence of remarkably faithful copying.
Conclusion: Jesus of Nazareth is a figure of history
Clearly there are events recorded in connection with Jesus’ life that many non-Christians will not accept, such as the miracles, the virgin birth, and the resurrection. However what is beyond dispute is that Yeshua (‘Jesus’) of Nazareth was a figure of history, who lived, attracted a following in his life time amongst his fellow Jews and was executed by crucifixion by the Roman authorities, after which his followers spread rapidly. Both secular and Christian sources of the period agree on this.
The primary sources for the history of Jesus’ public life are the gospels. These were written down relatively soon after his death — within living memory — and we have every indication that these sources were accepted as reliable in the early Christian community, during a period when first and second hand witnesses to Jesus’ life were still available.
We conclude that any statements about ‘Isa (Jesus) in the Qur’an, made six centuries after Jesus’ death, must be judged against the historical evidence from these first century sources, and not vice versa.