Ramadan And Abraham’s Family Of Messengers – OpEd


Ramadan this year started at sunset March 10, 2024. A Hadith declares that Ramadan was when the three Abrahamic Religions received their Books of Revelation. This Hadith, cited by ibn Kathir in elucidating Qur’an 2:185; states that Ramadan is a very special month because this one month in the Islamic lunar calendar was the same month when four of God’s books of revelations were sent down to four special Prophets: Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. 

Ibn Kathir states: Imam Ahmad reported Wathilah bin Al-Asqa` said that Allah’s Messenger said: “The Suhuf (Pages) of Ibrahim were revealed during the first night of Ramadan. The Torah was revealed during the sixth night of Ramadan. The Injil was revealed during the thirteenth night of Ramadan and Allah revealed the Qur’an on the twenty-fourth night of Ramadan.” (Ahmad 4:107 and Musnad 177025). 

So Ramadan’s revelation roots should stimulate Imams, Rabbis, Priests and Ministers to include in their sermons during Ramadan some positive thoughts that offer insight into each other’s Sacred Scriptures.

One of the most important visions of the prophets of Israel occurs in the words of the 8th century BCE biblical prophet Micah. He declared that until the end of history, and throughout the Messianic Age, religious pluralism will continue to be the norm, even among polytheists. 

“In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in His paths. Torah will go out from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. 

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord God has spoken. All the nations will walk in the name of their gods, and we (Jews) will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:1-5)

The opening section seems to predict Jewish pre-eminence but it doesn’t, because it says “many nations will come” (4:2) not “all nations will flow to Israel” to be taught God’s ways. The second section predicts the universal peace that will reign in the Messianic Age under God’ rule. So far this agrees totally with the better known prophecy of Isaiah (2:2-4). 

Then comes Prophet Micah’s revolutionary addition. Micah declares that the verses of the first section do not proclaim Judaism’s victory over all other religions, or even over all other God concepts. Even in the Messianic Age the other nations will still be loyal to their Gods just as we are loyal to our God as Micah says in (4:5)  “All the nations will walk in the name of their gods”

Indeed, it is possible to understand this verse to mean that the Messianic Age of universal peace will come about because all the nations, including Israel, actually live up to the best principles of their own religions.

Although there have been 313 Messengers sent by Allah, only four of them have received a book of revelation that has lasted to the present time: Prophets Moses, David, Jesus. and Muhammad. All four of them were descendants of Prophet Abraham and his two sons, Prophets Ishmael and Isaac. 

Prophet Abraham also received from Allah a smaller written revelation called Suhuf Ibrahim by the Qur’an (The Scrolls of Abraham). They were written by Ibrahim himself, and his scribes and followers according to some Islamic traditions. All Muslim scholars generally agree that no sacred Scrolls of Abraham survive, not due to deliberate sabotage but rather due to the passage of time. 

The exact contents of the Suhuf Ibrahim revelation are not described in the Qur’an; but it does refer to the Scrolls of Abraham several times, including this verse: “Most surely this is in the earlier scriptures, the Books of Abraham and Moses” (87:18-19). Perhaps the Qur’an connects Prophets Abraham and Moses here because the Suhuf Ibrahim are now included in the first 24 chapters of the Torah of Moses. 

Perhaps Prophetess Miriam wrote down the narrative oral Torah from Genesis 12 through Genesis 50 including the Suhuf Ibrahim that are now included in the first 24 chapters of the Torah of Moses. which Israel must have known, while Moses was in Midian. Midrash Exodus Rabbah 5:18 and Tanhumah Va’era 6 both state that the Israelite slaves in Egypt “possessed scrolls which they read”. This probably refers to the oral narrative Torah that Miriam the prophet wrote down for them.

Maybe Miriam, the sister of Prophets Aaron and Moses, who is described in the Torah of Moses as a Prophetess: “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.” (Exodus 15:20) was the one who included the Suhuf Ibrahim revelation within her writing of the Book of Genesis. 

The Talmud (Megillah 14a) lists Miriam as one of  seven major female Prophetesses of Israel, and also states that she was so righteous that due to her merit, the Israelites drank water from her well for forty years in the Wilderness (Taanit 9a).

Why does the Torah mention at this particular time that Miriam was a prophet? Because Prophetess Miriam herself composed the music for this song long before Israel left Egypt. For years Miriam went throughout the inhabitants of the people of Israel declaring that God would someday rescue Israel from Pharaoh’s oppression; and after Israel left Egypt and crossed the Sea of Reeds, they would sing a praise-God song to this very music.  

So Prophetess Miriam taught all the women how to play the drum for this praise-God song and Miriam also taught all the women several different dance steps that the women would do when they played the rhythm of the song. Because Miriam composed the music, the dance steps and much of the text of this song the Torah uses the feminine form of the word for song (shirah) in honor of Miriam the prophet.

And once the plagues started Miriam kept reminding the woman of all that she had taught them; and that as a sign of their faith in God they should all take at least one drum per family with them when it was time to leave. How else can one explain that all the women had a family drum with them and knew the dance steps.  (Mekhilta &  Pirkey d’Rabbi Eliezer) Prophetess Miriam was also an example for non-orthodox rabbis who would much later use drums and other musical instruments on Shabbat and Holy days.

Also the Prophet Micah listed three prophets as being sent to lead Israel’s Exodus from Egypt:: “For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, and I sent before you (Prophet) Moses, (Prophet) Aaron, and (Prophet) Miriam (Micah 6:4).

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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