The twenty-second chapter of the Qur’an, the pilgrimage, marks the journey away from the Christian tradition to a new monotheism of the Arabs. The Magnificat, the Eucharist, and the Sacraments are presented in unrecognizable forms. Prophets are accused to speaking the words of Satan, and this seems to be the explanation for the Prophetess Huldah telling King Josiah he would die in peace, just before he died in war. But, the Qur’anic author comforts, God will still provide ways to know Him, and He will judge all the races and faiths of man.
And the archers shot King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am severely wounded.
2 Chronicles 35:23
A Reading, from the Second Book of Kings
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her. Then she said to them,
“Thus says the LORD God of Israel,
‘Tell the man who sent you to Me,
“Thus says the LORD:
‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read— because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’ ” ’
But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him,
‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel:
“Concerning the words which you have heard— because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. “Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.”
So they brought back word to the king.
2 Kings 22:1-2,14-20
A Psalm, from the Psalms
All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD.
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
For the kingdom is the LORD’s,
And He rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
A Reading, from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.
Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.
He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
His servants therefore took him out of that chariot and put him in the second chariot that he had, and they brought him to Jerusalem. So he died, and was buried in one of the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
2 Chronicles 35:24
A Reading, from the Holy Gospel According to Luke
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.
Jeremiah also lamented for Josiah. And to this day all the singing men and the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations. They made it a custom in Israel; and indeed they are written in the Laments.
2 Chronicles 35:25
A Qur’anic Homily
This is not the Magnificat, the magnification of the Lord, you expected
It is not [camels’] flesh or blood that reaches god; rather, it is your piety that reaches Him. Thus has He disposed them for your benefit so that you may magnify God for His guiding you. And give good news to the virtuous.
This is not the sacrament and Eucharist (thanks-giving) that you know
We have appointed for you the camels as part of God’s sacraments.There is good for you in them. So mention the Name of God over them as they stand, and when they have fallen on their flanks, eat from them and feed the self-contained needy and the mendicant. Thus have We disposed them for your benefit so that you may give thanks.
There is a reason for this. All immortal things are moved by the Spirit, all things that last are sustained by Him.
The Prophetess and the King
The Lectionary (“Qur’an”), the Gospels, the Psalms, and the Torah are all elaborations of the Book, according to the Qur’anic author. Yet these elaborations, given to human prophets, are necessarily corrupted because of the influence that Satan has on all non-Resurrected flesh:
We did not send any apostle or prophet before you but that when he recited Satan interjected in his recitation. Thereat God nullifies whatever Satan has interjected, and then God confirms His Signs, and God is All-knowing, All-wise. That He may make what Satan has thrown in a test for those in whose hearts is sickness and those whose hearts have hardened. The wrongdoers are indeed steeped in extreme defiance.
This is an explanation for the mysterious case of the Prophetess Huldah and King Josiah, as seen in the readings. The Prophetess, when approached by the High Priest, said the King would die “in peace.” Instead, the King was slain by an arrow. What happened here?
One explanation is that the Prophetess did not mean “in peace” like humans mean it – perhaps he died in the peace of God but in the war of man.
Or perhaps the Prophetess had a condition she attached to the prophecy.
Or perhaps the Prophetess was given a contingent picture of the future, which depended on other actions that did not come about.
Or perhaps — and this appears to be the Qur’anic author’s interpretation — her words were corrupted by Satan. By this reading the end of the sentence — “– and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” is in fact a correction from God, which as intended to replace the problematic part of Huldah’s prophecy, “you shall be gathered to your grave in peace.”
This obscure event is a pressing issue for the Qur’anic author. The Qur’an is written after the sunset of the Arian sacrements, and in the shadow of a local church that taught that Bishops were Gods. Whether or not the introduction of these strange new sacraments was intended by the Qur’anic author — or if this chapter is written a lifetime after the rest of the Qur’an — it defends the emergence of new sacraments and new traditions to bring God to a people without holy orders, without Eucharist, and without confession.
The Theology of the Muslim Qur’an
The Qur’anic Author sees God not just as real thing, but even more so as the Real. Thomas Aquinas would agree strongly with the Qur’anic author on this point:
So will it be, because God is the Reality, and what they invoke besides Him is nullity, and because God is the All-exalted, the All-great.
Beneath God is the Logos, the Book, the passive reason for all things
Do you not know that God knows whatever there is in the heaven and the hearth? Al that is indeed in a Book. That is indeed easy for God.
Beneath the Book are all things, the Heaven and the Earth. Death is a transition between them, but cannot serve as an escape route from God. Someone who dies in this world angry at God finds himself, in the next, angry at God:
Whoever thinks that God will not help him in this world and the Hereafter, let him stretch a rope to the ceiling and hang himself, and see if his artifice would remove his range.
Beneath the humans on earth are the the divisions created by God, the elaborations of the Book found in many faiths…
God will indeed judge between the faithful, the Jews, the Sabaeans, the Christians, the Magians, and the polytheists on the Day of Resurrection. God is indeed witness to all things.
… and in many nations
For every nation We have appointed a rite so that they might mention God’s Name over the livestock He has provided to them.
God’s Realness is made manifest through the Book, on the earth, in the nations, by the religions, — according to the Qur’anic author — in the Sacraments, which vary according to rite and custom:
That, and whoever venerates the sacraments of God — indeed that arises from the Godwariness of the hearts.
These sacraments and liturgies are different from the Christian tradition — and perhaps objectionable to many of the community that agreed with earlier portions of the Qur’an. Yet to the Qur’anic author, it is better to state Reality in a different liturgy than (as he accuses the Catholics of doing) proclaim a Nullity with an old liturgy:
For every nation We have appointed rites which they observe; so let them not dispute with you about your religion. And invoke to your Lord. You are indeed on a straight guidance.
All of God’s promises will hold true, the adoption of these new rites and sacraments (according to the Qur’anic author) does not threaten the promises of God to His people:
They ask you to hasten the punishment, though God will never break His promise. Indeed,a day with your Lord is like a thousand years by your reckoning.
The Catholic victory over the Arians, the end of Arian apostolic succession, is a crisis for the Qur’anic author. Either his beliefs, or his access to the sacraments, need to be lost forever. The Qur’anic author is gambling his pilgrimage from the sacraments of the church — now abandoned forever — will be rewarded by God for his faithfulness to his creed. The Arian faithful have been expelled from their home. But a hope of a Monotheism-of-an-Undifferentiated-God remains:
— those who were expelled from their home unjustly only because they said, “God is our Lord.” Had not God repulsed the people from one another, ruin would have befallen the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and houses of prayer in which God’s Name is much invoked. God will surely help those who help Him. God is indeed all-strong, all-mighty.
A creed of Arius, now embittered over the years
As persons having pure faith in God, not ascribing partners to Him. Whoever ascribes partners to God is as though he had fallen from a height, then were devoured by cultures, or blown away by the wind, far and wide.
And now with new rites and sacraments for those who submit to it — for the Muslims:
O you who have faith! Bow down and prostrate yourselves and worship your Lord, and do good, so that you may be felicitous. And wage struggle (jihad) for the sake of God, a strugle which is worthy of Him. he has chosen you and has not placed for you any obstacle in the religion, the faith of your father, Abraham. He named you ‘those who submit’ (muslims) before, and in this, so that the Apostle may be a witness to you, and that you may be witnesses to mankind. So maintain the prayer, give alms (zakat), and hold fast to God. He is your Master — an excellent Master, and an excellent helper.
The Prophetess Hudah told King Josiah he would be gathered to his grave in peace. He died in war. To the Qur’anic author this is not an abandonment of God, but a sign of Satan’s activity even in the hearts of religious leaders. A similar apostasy came, in the view of the Qur’anic author, was the apostasy of the Christianity community from what he saw as the teaching of the Apostles, of the earliest Fathers, and of Arius.
What remains is a choice: retain the forms of a faith, while accepting a new creed, or accepting new forms, while retaining the oldest Creed. The Qur’anic author urges a new way to follow the Apostles:
So do not supposed that God will break His promise to His apostles. Indeed, God is all-mighty, avenger. The way when the earth is turned into another earth and the heavens, and they are presented before God, the One, the All-paramount — on that day you will see the guilty bound together in chains, their garments made of pitch, and the Fire covering their faces, so that God may regard every soul for what is has earned. God is indeed swift at reckoning.
Follow our father-in-faith, Abraham:
Indeed, Abraham was a nation, obedient to God, a hanif, and he was not a polytheist. Grateful for his blessings, he chose him and guided him to a straight path. We gave him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he will indeed be among the righteous. Therefore, We reveled to you,
“Follow the creed of Abraham, a hanif, who was not a polytheist.”