January 05, 2006
Heaven...The Rest of the Story!
An ABC News 20/20 Special Report with Barbara Walters on the subject of Heaven aired recently (Dec. 20, 2005), however, I didn't happen to see it until a few days ago when the program finally hit the satellite line-up here in Egypt. Night owl that I am, when the program came on at 2:00 in the morning, I tuned in to watch and listen. I have to admit the program was captivating, from the interview locations, Ms. Walters' fashionable wardrobe changes (seriously, at age 74 she never looked better!), and her amicable chat with the Dalai Lama in India, I watched every minute with great enthusiasm. However, I am compelled to express my deep disappointment with the way print media has, once again, chosen to allow misrepresentations of the teachings of Islam regarding heaven and terrorism (i.e., suicide bombing and martyrdom), in a continuation of the effort to depict Islam and Muslims in a less than favorable light. For example: Walters' team also traveled to Israel where Jihad Jarrar, of Islamic Jihad, who is incarcerated in an Israeli prison for a failed suicide bombing, tells Walters that only Muslims will go to heaven and that "...the Lord promised the martyr who lost his life and lost the world on earth, that he promised him these 72 women in paradise as honor, as respect for him." And: Jihad Jarrar...tells Walters that only Muslims will go to heaven and "the reason I chose a martyrdom operation" was to spend an eternity in paradise. What these two articles fail to include is that Ms. Walters also interviewed Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, an Islamic Scholar who rebutted Jarrar's misinterpretation of martyrdom; and asserted with emphasis that Jarrar was wrong in his attempt at suicide bombing. Since none of the articles I've reviewed have offered any of the Imam's clarifying statements I am unable to quote him here, but I do recall from watching the ABC report his mentioning a reference from the Quran: "If anyone slew an innocent person it would be as if he slew the whole mankind and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole mankind." [Al-Qur’an 5:32] The Imam was quoted in another article, but once again, his rebuttal of Jarrar's comments did not appear in print. Instead, the public is given just enough to suggest that the Imam agreed with Jarrar, when in fact, he did not!!! The article misquotes the Imam as saying: "...there's plenty of sex there -- and with virgins, no less." Please note the " -- " in the quote...yes, of course there was more to what he said!!! The full quote from the ABC News original report stated: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, tells Walters he believes heaven is indeed a physical place, but getting there depends on your behavior in this life. "The real life is the next life … and based upon how we live this life, it determines where we shall be in the next. We are told we will be in comfortable homes, reclining on silk couches … so we're given the delights of sex, the delights of wine, the delights of food with all of their positive things without their negative aspects." Still neglecting to print anything positive with regard to the correct teachings of Islam on the subject matter, as offered by the Imam in his 20/20 interview, print media once again gives Jarrar a voice from his prison cell in Israel, in an article where he is quoted as telling Ms. Walters that unless she became Muslim, "hell would be her final destination." And, for the purpose of this article, one last time in an story where Jarrar states that, "...only Muslims will go to heaven and the reason I chose a martyrdom operation was to spend an eternity in paradise." Producers of the ABC special did an admirable job putting together a program that offered representation from varying faiths, to include: Cardinal Theodore McCerrick of the Roman Catholic Church of Washington DC; Rabbi Neil Gilman from the New York Jewish Theological Seminary; Comedian Jackie Mason, who is a Rabbi; Reverend Calvin Butts, Pastor of New York's famed Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem; the reincarnated Buddah His Holiness the Dalai Lama; National Association of Evangelicals President, Pastor Ted Haggard; Ellen Johnson, President of the American Atheists Society; and the Islamic Scholar, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. I also appreciated, as the 20/20 report came to an end, the narrator's comment based on the Imam's clarification regarding the correct teachings of Islam on the subject of martyrdom, which revealed the apparent conclusion of the producers that, "Jarrar would be the one going to hell," - not Ms. Walters. Apparently neither ABC nor Ms. Walters appreciated being told by a man imprisoned for attempted suicide bombing that hell would be her final destination; the ABC News Original Report didn't even mention his interview. --------- Order the the CD of "Heaven - Where is it? How Do We Get There? 12/20/05 Video Clip from "Heaven - Where is it? How Do We Get There? 12/20/05 Islam's Stance Against Terrorism: Islamic Statements Against Terrorism and Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks Posted January 10, 2005: Saudi cleric says terrorism used to discredit Islam http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060110/wl_nm/haj_saudi_sermon_dc Image 'Stairway to Heaven' © Jim Warren from: http://www.jimwarren.com/index.html (used with permission) Copyright © 2005 Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.