Paul Williams wrote: (at his old blog, no longer available) (quoting Hamza Yusuf)
“We must remember that if a person has done wrong his spiritual path is not severed. There is recourse. One seeks repentance with God. One should not confess or broadcast what one has done. If God has veiled one’s wrongdoing, do not tear the veil down.
There is a hadith in which a man came to the Prophet (upon whom be peace) and said “I committed a sin,” and he meant adultery. “So punish me.” But the Prophet (pbuh) turned and walked away. The man pursued the Prophet (pbuh) and told him again that he wanted to be punished for his sin. The Prophet (pbuh) finally looked at him and asked him if he made ablution and prayed. He was telling him that Islam purifies. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever does indecency, let him veil his acts with the veiling of God and let him make repentance.” He also said, “Whoever comes to our faces and admits them, then we will punish them.” (Hamza Yusuf)
The emphasis in the above is on the one act of sin. Islam emphasizes external sins – like adultery, rather than dealing with the root (s) of sin, the sinful nature within, and the evil thoughts and motives that spring from that. And since adultery is punishable by death in Islam, then the result is that there is lots of hiding and covering up and hypocrisy. As Jonathan Brown said in a lecture (I will have to track it down; as it was at Paul Williams old site) – “the Islamic Caliphs didn’t care what you did in private” (from memory)
I asked Paul Williams for the Hadith reference for this, and he never gave it. I wrote before:
As of January 26, 2012, I am still waiting for the Hadith reference on this. (and still to this day, January 15, 2014)
This, the cultural tendency for Muslims to hide their sins, because of Islam and the external honor is more important than internal change and humility and confession of sins; is something I have noticed in 30 years of dealing with Muslims in evangelism, church planting, and discipling new believers. Muslim culture seems to teach Muslims to cover and hide their sins, or blame others, and not emphasize the internal guilt of the sinful selfish, prideful nature. The empahsis is on the external act of sin. The emphasis in Islam is on the shame of big sins. The emphasis is not on dealing with the root of the thoughts and motives of sin. This Hadith reference seems to confirm this for me as to one of the reasons for these cultural tendencies in the Muslim world. But it would be nice to get the exact reference.
In contrast, Christians are taught to confess their sinfulness and legal guilt before a Holy God; the sinful nature of the self; and individual sins, including the sinful motives, pride, jealousy, anger, lusts, rancour, spite, bitterness, greed, to God –Mark 1:15; I John 1:9
, Psalm 51:1 ff
, 32:1 ff
, 38:1 ff
; James 5:16
, Proverbs 28:13
When the bible speaks of repentance unto life – initial repentance means a realization that one is a sinner by nature, guilty before a holy God; and that it is the person’s root and nature; not just individual sins; and that there is no hope without Jesus Christ to be saved, so true repentance always includes faith in Christ, a turning to Christ to save, because one realizes their guilt before God so as to sent them to hell, and that they cannot save themselves. (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8; 5:31-32; Luke 13:1-5; 24:46-47; Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 26:20) This is why Paul Williams and Shabir Ally’s interpretation of Luke 18:9-14 is always wrong.
The sinner has to confess that he is “the sinner”, (at root, a sinner by nature and legal guilt before God) not just individual “sins”. Confession that one is “the sinner” includes guilt enough to send to hell; and the cry for God to be mercy is literally “propitiate me” – provide propitiation for me – satisfy Your justice and holy anger against me, is the meaning of that in Luke 18:9-14. This is why that parable is looking forward to the one propitiation, the atonement of Jesus Al Masih on the cross.
If one has sinned against a person, they must go to them and confess their wrong doing and make restitution (for example, pay back what was stolen, etc.) and seek reconciliation if possible. (James 5:16
; Matthew 5:23-26
; Matthew 18:15-20
Yes, formal Islam does teach somewhere else that they must confess their sins to Allah; but it seems to be a general cultural tendency for Muslims to hide their embarrassing sins. This Hadith that Hamza Yusuf quoted seems to give foundation for that cultural norm. It is a human trait in all of us to hide our sins, and to blame others. (Genesis 3 – Adam and Eve) This is not just a Muslim problem; we all have this problem. Shame is real. But shame comes from real guilt before a holy God. Other cultures also tend to hide one’s sin, just look at how Bill Clinton lied about his adultery and sex with Monica Lewinsky; and the lengths that he went to to cover it up. And the lengths to which Ergun Caner is going to in order to not let his sins of lying so much be “out there” any more than it is.
So, I am not saying that other cultures don’t naturally hide their sins; I am just saying that Islam seems to provide religious justification for it, whereas Christianity does not.
The Bible teaches more clearly than Islam that the problems with the world are the human hearts of men, pride, selfishness, anger, lust, deception, jealousy, greed, hatred – the inner hidden motives and attitudes are the problem. Islam emphasizes the external rules and rituals and obeying authorities in society, but not the sinful attitudes in the heart. Islam’s Sharia (law) emphasizes externals and obedience and has harsh punishments and executions for certain sins. The problem with adultery is internal lust, not women not covering up enough. Granted the west has violated biblical norms of modesty and has gone too far the other way. You cannot clean your heart of pride and lust and anger and hatred by washing your hands or face or feet before you pray and then reciting a memorized prayer. God sees the heart, and the God of the Bible diagnoses the problems with the world more accurately than Islam does. Islam talks about internal sins, but not very much; it is not an emphasis. Islam takes a human trait of pride and honor and embarrassment over sin, shame (see Genesis 3 – the response of Adam and Eve to their sin, guilt, and shame) and takes that human tendency and institutionalizes covering up the problems and not dealing with internal sins. Islam lessens and denigrates the holiness of God, and makes light of it, when it boasts that man can clean up his life and work and do rituals correctly and somehow make themselves acceptable to God.
That is one reason why Sufism seems to have started. (according to one Muslim, it was invented 200 years after the death of Ali, the fourth Sunni Caliph and first Shi’ite Imam- died in 661 AD – 200 years later is 861 AD). The Sufi movement recognized that sin came from within, in the heart; and that external religion that emphasized cleaning the outside creates hypocrisy and dead rituals and internal corruption.
But there is no power of the Holy Spirit on the inside in the heart in the Islamic religion to change people’s nature. Sinners need a new heart, not a new set of rules and rituals to follow, thinking they can earn their way to get God’s acceptance, which is the height and depth of pride. (Ezekiel 36:26
; John 3:1-8
; Ephesians 2:1-10
Diagnosis of Man’s problem in the hearts – internal root sins.
The whole eastern and Muslim “honor and shame” cultural tendency seems to come from pride; from evil human arrogance and pride deep in the heart; and unwillingness to admit one’s guilt.
“whoever is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord” – Proverbs 16:5
At Paul Bilal Williams’ new website/blog, http://www.bloggingtheology.org
, I interacted with a very reasonable Muslim who goes by “Jesus is a Prophet”, who has also been commenting here. He admitted that the Sufi movement was “invented about 200 years after the death of Ali”.
“This is historical fact, it’s like “admitting” the world is round. Now what haven’t you dealt with any of what I said? I thought this was a discussion.” (Muslim who goes by “JesusisaProphet”)
Good morning! صبح الخیر – “Jesus is a Prophet” – [ It would be nice to know your real name. ] You are the first I have seen who made it that clear – that Sufism was invented 200 years after the death of Ali.
I still would like the specific references to the Ahadith – a lot of yours and Paul Williams’ citings don’t give the exact references. Even when Bukhari is cited, in P. Williams posts, it just says “Bukhari”. Please give the specific volume, book, number so one can look it up. It will not do to say “I don’t trust that cite for looking up Hadith”. Fix it, I say. Get it out there so others can see it and verify it and have a proper debate/discussion.
Unfortunately, it appears that only Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim and Sunan Abu Dawood are on line; and it is hard to understand other Ahadith references that are not in the 6 canonical Sunni collections. How are we to understand those other Ahadith references that are not in the 6 canonical sets? Why are they not in the 6 canonical collections? How many other Ahadith are there? We need dates as to when they were written also. There needs to be a table of the whole thing for someone to understand the big picture of how to put all of that together.
I appreciate learning more and more Ahadith about the root of sin within; and as I said, there are some verses that show that. Very well. However, the point is still, Islam does not emphasize it enough that sin comes from within yourself, your own heart and thoughts and motives, a sinful nature – the nafs نفس or نفس اماره (nafs amareh = “principle of self” ). Islam says that everyone is born innocent (Surah 30:30 – “created with an upright nature” – the fitreh/fitrat) فطره or فطرت – however, some also claim that Islam actually does teach inherited sinful nature/original sin in the texts themselves. But in order to deny the need for atonement, Islam seems to officially deny that we are sinners by nature; Islam says that everyone is born innocent and a “Muslim” when they are born; and then their parents and environment lead them astray. (Is that official Islamic dogma? Because others argue that Islam actually does teach that sin comes from a sin nature within. Which is it? )
This, that people are born innocent and not selfish by nature, can lead to blaming parents, life’s circumstances, Satan, temptations of women and advertisements, the west, Israel, etc. for one’s own sins. This leads to a general tendency for many Muslims (not all; but very pervasive culturally) to not taking responsibility for their own sin and guilt and lust and pride and selfishness and anger, and blaming others for their sin. This is a human problem we all share(Genesis 3 – Adam and Eve blaming others for their own sin), but Islam has taken that human problem and magnified it and institutionalized it.
After my comment, it was very late and so I went to sleep; and now it is a new day. It may take a while for me to respond to more; because I have other work to do now. But you are one of the most reasonable Muslims I have interacted with on the internet, probably the most reasonable; and I thank you for that. شکراً I have learned a lot from you.
Note: I still have to learn how to get the Bible verses embedded into this blog. The reason some are here is that those were from a previous article I wrote at another blog of mine, where the owner of that blog put that feature in.