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How To Understand Karma and Rebirth in Christianity and Islam:

Updated on April 11, 2013
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Most Christians and Muslims believe repayment of debt will take place on Judgment Day; therefore, there is no reason or need for reincarnation. Eastern sages speak of the effects of karma in present life and future life, whereas Christians and Muslims concern themselves with the effects of karma at the final judgment

Judgment day is the culmination of all karma, and no doubt the final tally will be told at this time. However, let us examine the possibility that karma may be the instrument of justice during our lifetime on earth.

Karma is divine justice and all are subject to the law. The justice of God is fair and equitable; no one is unjustly treated. The Cow Sura from the Koran states,

“Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. For it is only that which it hath earned, and against it only that which it hath deserved.”

From this stanza, we come to the understanding that all we have done in the past affects our life now and in the future. Karma is the divine law; if we are to abide by the law, we must have a complete understanding of the law. “Though Adam first sinned and brought untimely death upon all, yet of those who were born from him each one has prepared for his own soul torment to come, or has chosen for himself glories to come. Adam is, therefore not the cause, save only for his own soul. But each of us has been the Adam of his own soul.” Pg. 248, TheHistory of Judaism, by Daniel Silver.

Christians believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is their belief that if we follow Jesus our sins will be forgiven. From John 1:29: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” And inRomans 6:8 to 6:9: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more often, being now justified by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

For Christians, Jesus is the Way, the Way is the truth, and those who follow the truth shall be forgiven. Is it possible to ‘follow’ means to abide in truth; to follow Jesus’ example is to exemplify the Christian virtues. When we live in accordance with the truth, there is no place within us for sin to enter.

Observing the dogma of the Christian church, many Christians do not believe in the concepts of rebirth and karma, rather, they believe through repentance all their sins will be forgiven. If so, how will those who have been wronged be reimbursed for the pain and suffering inflicted upon them? How does divine justice work in this theory? Most of us believe God is merciful, just and loves all His children. So we must ask; where is the mercy, love and justice for those who have suffered through the acts of now repentant Christians?

Indeed, it is believed by many that God forgives karmic deeds when sincerity and true repentance are shown. However, for divine justice to proceed in accordance to the Law of Cause and Effect, there must be repayment.

Unless we have cultivated ourselves to a very high level, we are probably still attached to some, if not all, of the Five Desires. As such, our lives are still controlled by the Seven Passions, and our minds continue to be deluded from the poison of the Ten Evil Deeds.

If so, then we will probably produce evil karma, and it appears we will have to repay our debts. Because of our attachment to desires and passions, it is very difficult to follow the truth, and therefore difficult to truly follow Jesus.

A true follower of Jesus will perfect his nature to a state free of desire and attachment. Liberated from delusion, he will be complete in his self-nature and will create no evil karma. Since most of us have not reached this level of purity, we must confront the circumstances and conditions that arise in our daily lives with a mind that is less than clear, and with eyes that barely see.

If we accept the possibility of recompense in daily life, it will enable us to answer the questions many feel are unanswerable. Most people do not understand why God allows the innocent of the world to suffer. We ask—if God is filled with mercy and compassion, then why do small babies die? Why do innocent children suffer and die from hunger and disease? Why are some born with handicaps? Why do the powerful oppress the weak? The examples of life’s apparent inequities are never-ending. If we do not accept the Law of Karma, then surely God is unmerciful, without compassion, and truly unjust.

The only practical, fair answer to this puzzle is that the responsibility for our thoughts and actions rests within us. God did not create a world of suffering; we did. It is not God’s will that we suffer, it is our delusion and desire that causes pain and it is up to us to end it.

Accepting responsibility, and believing in the justice and mercy of God, can we deny karma’s seeds germinate in daily life? Looking at the seeds of nature, if we compare them one to another we observe some germinate quickly and others slowly, some bear fruit in a single season and others only after many years.

Following the law of nature, the seeds of karma are the same. The seeds of karma we sow are of many varieties and will germinate and bear fruit when conditions mature—some in a day, some in a year, and some after our human life ends.

Jesus made a monumental impact on the world; through him, Christians believe we will find salvation. Raise your cross and follow Jesus and you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and enjoy everlasting peace, tranquility and be saved from damnation and hellfire.

If we can find the path that is straight and enter through the narrow gate, we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is interesting to note that Jesus alerts us to the fact that few people find the narrow gate: “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Matthew 7:13 to 7:14.

It is vitally important to understand the meaning of the word ‘few’. Few is a relative term, and we must ask why Jesus choose to use this word. Many Christians believe all Christians go to heaven, yet Jesus said few people find the narrow gate. What did he mean? How many are a few? Three? A few hundred, a few million or even a few billion? The interpretation of the word, ‘few’ will depend upon our beliefs and experiences.

Once again, it is not my place to interpret the meaning of this parable for you; however, the question arises: If all Christians go to Paradise, why did Jesus say few? Obviously the word ‘few’ has meaning, or Jesus would not have said it.

It is interesting to note that the Holy Bible also tells us in order to enter into heaven we must erase our name from the book of death in hell, register our name in the book of life in heaven, be baptized with fire and Holy Spirit, and have the Seal of God on our forehead, as illustrated in the following quotes: “And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them it was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God upon their foreheads.

Revelations 9:3 to 9:42“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Revelations 20:12 and 20:15: John the Baptist said,

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand3, and he willthoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

In Matthew 3:11 to 3:12, we read the ceremonial baptism by water is for repentance only. Does this mean there is a ceremony for baptism by fire and Holy Spirit? If so, when, where, and how is this ceremony performed? Did you have this ceremony? How is our name registered in the Book of Life in heaven? What does it mean to have the Seal of God on our forehead? In order to truly follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible, a Christian must thoroughly comprehend the significance of these questions.

It is not my intention to argue or dispute whether transmigration and reincarnation exist. However, in the Koran and New Testament, there are quotations in both holy books that seem to illustrate the possibility, if not probability, of reincarnation and karma. From the Koran, the Cow Sura, “How disbelieved ye in Allah,when ye were dead and he gave life to you! Then he will give you death, then life to again, and then unto Him ye will return.”

Also from the Cow Sura, is Muhammad describing the transmigration from human being to animal? “And ye know of those of you who broke the Sabbath, how we said unto them, “Be ye apes, despised and hated!”

In the Imran Sura: “Thou causest the night to pass into the day and thou causest the day to pass into the night. And thou bringest forth the living from the dead, and thou bringest forth the dead from the living. And thou givest sustenance to whom thou chooseth, without stint.”

The teachings of Jesus and Muhammad were meant to instruct the people in the nature of truth; of this fact, there is no doubt. However, we must carefully examine their teachings from the words of the sages themselves in order to avoid misinterpretation.

For example, from the Cow Sura in the Koran, some Muslims interpret the meaning of ‘Be ye apes, despised and hated!’ to mean we act like apes. These interpretersmay be correct in their assertions, but the question arises—why didn’t God say ‘like apes’? Why did he say ‘Be ye apes.’ The Koran does not say act like, or behave like apes, it simply states ‘Be ye apes’. God need only say ‘Be’ and that which is his will shall be—this assertion is stated in the Koran time and time again.

The Eastern religions believe in the six levels of reincarnation: Heavenly beings, Human beings, Asuras, Animals, Hungry ghosts, and Hell beings. The Koran divides the levels into five: Heavenly beings (Moses, Elijah, Gabriel, etc.), Human beings, Animals, Hell beings and the Jinn.

The Jinn are elemental beings that exist between Heaven and Earth. From the description of the Jinn in the Koran, they may actually be what the eastern religions call asuras. Like human beings, the Jinn have not perfected their self-nature, and the Koran tells us God also released the Koran to them for their guidance and instruction.

The Jinn Revealed at Mecca:

“In the name of Allah [God], the Beneficent, the Merciful.

1. Say (O Muhammad): It is revealed unto me that a company of the Jinn gave ear, and they said: Lo! It is a marvelous Qu’an,

2. Which guideth unto righteousness, so we believe in it and we ascribe unto our Lord.

3. And (we Believe) that He—exalted be the glory of our Lord! hath taken neither wife nor son,

4. And that the foolish one among us used to speak concerning Allah an atrocious lie.

5. And lo! We had supposed that humankind and Jinn would not speak a lie concerning Allah.

6. And indeed (O Muhammad) individuals of humankind used to invoke the protection of individuals of the Jinn, so that they increased them in revolt (against Allah);

7. And indeed they supposed, even as ye suppose, that Allah would not raise anyone (from the dead).

8. And (the Jinn who had listened to the Qur’an said): We had sought the heaven but had found it filled with strong warders and meteors.

9. And we used to sit on places (high) therein to listen. But he who listened now findeth a flame in wait for him;

10. And we know not whether harm is boded unto all who are in the earth, or whether their Lord intendeth guidance for them.

11. And among us there are righteous folk and among us there are far from that. We are sects having different rules.

12. And we know that we cannot escape from Allah in the earth, nor can we escape by flight.

13. And when we heard the guidance, we believed therein, and whoso believeth in his Lord, he feareth loss nor oppression.

14. And there are among us some who have surrendered (to Allah) and there are among us some who are unjust. And whoso hath surrendered to Allah, such have taken the right path purposefully.

15. And as for those who are unjust, they are firewood for hell.

16. If they (the idolaters) tread the right path, we shall give them to drink of water in abundance.

17. That We may test them thereby, are whoso turneth away from the remembrance of his Lord; He will thrust him into ever-growing torment.

18. And the places of worship are only for Allah, so pray nor unto anyone along with Allah.

19. And when the slave of Allah stood up in prayer to Him they crowded on him, almost stifling.

20. Say (unto them O Muhammad): I pray unto Allah only, and ascribe unto Him no partner.

21. Say: Lo! I control not hurt nor benefit for you.

22.Say: Lo! None can protect me from Allah, nor can I find any refuge beside Him.

23.(Mine is) but conveyance (of the truth) from Allah, and His messages; and whoso disobeyeth Allah and His messenger, Lo! His is fire of hell, wherein such dwell forever.

24. Till (the day) when they shall behold that which they are promised (they may doubt); but then they will know (for certain) who is weaker in allies and less in multitude.

21. Say (O Muhammad, unto the disbelievers): I know not whether that which ye are promised.

26. (He is) the Knower of the Unseen, and He revealeth unto none His secret,

27. Save unto every messenger whom He hath chosen, and then He maketh a guard to go before him and a guard behind him.

28. That He may know that they have indeed conveyed the messenger of their Lord. He surroundeth all their doings, and He keepeth count of all things.” Jinn Sura, Koran.

Apparently, the Jinn are inflicted with many, if not all the same weaknesses as human beings. They commit evil deeds and suffer the separation of being from God. Verse 4 and Verse 8 of the Jinn Sura are examples of their alienation and delusion. “And that the foolish one among us used to speak concerning Allah an atrocious lie.” “And the Jinn who had listened to the Qur’an said; “We had sought the heaven, but had found it filled with strong warders and meteors.”

According to the Koran, the Jinn live on a level of existence for a specific period of time. When they have completed their life, they transmigrate to heaven or to hell. God sees all and all deeds are accounted for, as stated in Verse 28: “That He may know that they have indeed conveyed the messenger of their Lord. He surroundeth all their doings, and He keepeth count of all things.”

Because I am not Muslin, it is not my place to interpret the Holy Koran. Each person should study the Koran and decide for himself if reincarnation is possible. Many Christians believe there are no references to reincarnation in Christianity. Because of this, they do not believe in transmigration or rebirth. Nevertheless, the argument for reincarnation might be made with a close examination of the New Testament.

Could the following quotes from the Gospels be references to reincarnation? Jesus was asked by his disciples, “How could the Christ come before Elijah?” (Elijah was a sage carried off to heaven in a chariot as described in the Old Testament.) It appears Jesus’ revelation of Elijah reborn as John the Baptist in the Gospel according to Matthew is a statement of reincarnation: “And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in Kings houses.”

“But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written. Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of woman there hath not risen a greater that John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it be force.”

“For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.”

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:7to 11:15.

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus: ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias”

“While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said; ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.’ And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.”

“And Jesus came and touched them, and said: “Arise, and be not afraid.” And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw nothing save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.”

“And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them. “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.”

“But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.”

“Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:1 to 17:13.

“And he said unto them: ‘Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”

“And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them”.

“And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.”

“And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus: ‘Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one Moses, and one for Elias.’ For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.”

“And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son: hear him.’ And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.”

“And as they come down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.”

“And they asked him, saying, ‘Why say the scribes that Elias must first come’ And he answered and told them, ‘Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at naught.”

“But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.” Mark 9:1 to 9:13.

The Birth of John the Baptist According to Luke

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the world; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightiest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zachariah, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.” “And it came to pass, that while be executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.” “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zachariah saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, ‘Fear not, Zachariah: for thy prayer shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall be turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the heart of the fathers to the children, anda people prepared for the Lord.”

“And Zachariah said unto the angel, ‘Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.’ And the angel answering said unto him, ‘I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”

“And the people waited for Zachariah, and marveled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.”

“And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and, hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

“And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

“Then said Mary unto the angel, ‘How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?’ And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

“And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zachariah, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice. ‘And blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.’ And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

“And Mary said, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is in them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

“Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbors and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zachariah, after the name of his father.”

“And his mother answered and said, ‘Not so, but he shall be called John.’ And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying ‘His name is John.’ And they marveled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.”

“And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What manner of child shall this be!’ And the hand of the Lord was with him.”

“And his father Zachariah was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he swore to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we bring delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way, To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.”

Luke 1:1 to 1:80.

Jesus proclaimed John the reincarnation of Elijah. It was Elijah’s purpose to reincarnate as John to fulfill the prophesy of the scribes. If Elijah could reincarnate to fulfill his mission, is it not probable that we too reincarnate to fulfill ours?

Karma, rebirth and the three planes of the universe are orthodox principles firmly established in Eastern philosophies. The ideas of karma and reincarnation are not as readily accepted in Christianity and Islam and are not widely understood by the people of the West.

Excerpted from Introduction to Buddhism

2 See also Revelations 7:2 to 7:17 for insights into who receives the seal and their relationship with God and the Kingdom of Heaven.

3 Ji Gong Buddha, in charge of the Universal Transmission of Tao during the White Yang Period (time of the Universal Salvation), since ancient times has been portrayed holding a fan in one hand.

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    • LouisPearlGG profile image
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      Louis Pearl G.G. 4 years ago from Northern California

      I can see you feel very strongly. I respect your opinion and would kindly agree to disagree. For more articles likely to annoy you please visit my other hubs.

      However, I would like to point out that I am not comparing any religion against another. I am only pointing out the respective points of view on karma and reincarnation.

      As I said in the article, many Christians and Muslims do not believe in reincarnation. I am not trying to convince you to believe, I only point out the information in the Bible and the Koran. I leave it to the reader to determine how to make up their own mind. Thank you for your comment.