, September 24, 2005
 (BALITANG BETERANO) By Col (RetUS) Frank B. Quesada (Former Senate Committee Secretary Veterans and Military Pensions Associate, PMA ’44 ) -  It interesting to note that among ourselves in the PMA Alumni Association we have brother Muslims who occasionally teach us what is Islam, and the Hadith, which is the “news of their God’s Messenger.”

We begin to identify them when we pray for fellow cavaliers and their families and relatives, greeting them during their birthdays, and their love ones, in their demise. Our cyber prayer group here in the United States is led by Christian Cav. Butch M. Moreto (PMA’ 54). Two other Muslim cavaliers in the Bay Area are Cav. Pol Aliac ’67 and Cav. Robert H. Bruce ’65. The last one whom we recently prayed for was Muslim comrade, AFP’s PN Rear Admiral, Romulo Espaldon, who expired as ambassador in the Middle East. There are many others whom I failed to enumerate. In the course of our prayers, exchanges of historical importance on both, I apologize for the omission.

Politics and religion should not divide us. We, Christians are exposed to the teachings of the Qur’an and Islam history and vice versa with utmost tolerance.

My Personal Exposure

As for myself, I was exposed to Islam way back before World War II, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was organizing the Armed Forces of the Philippines. My late father, Captain R.N. Quesada, (USAFFE casualty) was tasked to organize the Reserve Officers Service School (ROSS) and the Reseve Officers Training School (ROTS), was temporarily based in Mindanao, more particularly in Jolo, and then in Basilan for many months. I acquired friends there who were Muslims, as well as Christians that thrived peacefully at that time. I was exposed to the Muslim faith, and to local Imams whom I became a close friends, who gave me lesson about the Qur’an and the problems between Muslims and the government as early as before World War II. Albeit, I was not converted to the Islam. Nevertheless, it was interesting to have known Islam faith and the teachings found in Hadith - so rich in history.

References to Christ

In reading the Qur’an, there are many references about our Christian God, and Virgin Mary and even to Moses. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an is in Islam what Christ is in Christianity. Muhammad stands in relation to it as the Twelve Apostles in the Logos, according to Islamist Professor Wilfred C. Smith. The Qur’an, then, is their Word of God (for Muslims). The divine communication is seen as the final stage in its long divine communications that was conducted through the prophets. It began with Adam, the first Man. It was said also was the first prophet, because he was the first to whom God revealed Himself. The Qur’an was, however, revealed in Arabic.

God Speaks to Man

It was said that the first words of the Sura (chapter) of the Clot as the first which were revealed to Muhammad. The opening of portion of the second longest chapter of the Qur’an is the “Sura of the Cow.” It was the introduction. The story of the Garden of Eden was said similar to that contained in Genesis.

However, the doctrine of Original Sin is unacceptable to Islam. Adam's fall is not seen as a sin, but an error of judgment, and has not tainted the human race with its consequences. It was also said that from the creation man has made a contract to serve God. Abraham is said as the ancestor of Semities, as seen in the Qur’an as a prototype of a Muslim. And with his first born Ismael he built the Temple of the Ka’ba, or Mecca and instituted the rights of pilgrimage. He was claimed as both by the Jews and Christian who did not belong to either of these religions, but submitted to God, a Muslim.

The Hadith

This is the news of god’s Messenger. Next to the Qur’an itself, the most important Islamic textual material is the Hadith. It contains the saying of the Prophet and his companions. Prof. Wilfred C. Smith, in his study and analogy of Islam – the Qur’an is in Islam what Christ is in Christianity. Hadith was also said that it is the record of how Revelation occurred, and the Acts of the Apostles or Messenger to Islam and roughly what the New Testament to Christianity. No absolute canon of the Hadith was ever established because the Hadith was a separate story handed down with the backing (the isnad) which was a chain of stories written by narrators.

Muhammad, the Messenger

The oldest biography of Muhammad is the greatest collection of hadiths compiled by Muhammad ibn Ishaq of Medina who died d.AH 151/A D 768. His revelation began in the Seventh Century A.D. in the stony valley of Mecca which connected South Arabia. The ancient civilization of South Arabia later broken down to Abyssina, now Christianized from Egypt.

Muhammad’s Beginnings

Muhammad was said born A.D. 571, which was uncertain. He was orphaned early. His own clan was identifies as the Banu Hashim. He was employed by a widow of a rich merchant, Khadija whom he married, and bore him several children, at least one son, al-Qasim who died in infancy. It was a happy marriage. Muhammad in his early days, had hoped that the Jews of Medina would recognized his prophetic claims but had opposed and rebelled against Him with ridicule. However he was joined by the miunafidqins ( the hypocrites). His Islamic Crusade Muhammad led his crusade in raid to caravans of the Quraysh in A.H. 8/A.D. 630. The Ka’ba was cleansed of its idols, and rededicated it as the center of the Islam World, the Temple of Abraham and Ishmael.

The Muslim community spread out towards Europe, followers were ordered to pay zakat (taxes) to Medina. He lived as a simple patriarch at Medina. Everywhere the pagan cults were dying, Islam and His authority were unchallenged. It prevailed as a religion. One of the communities in Europe where Muslims and Christians live together in peace was in Spain.

Our Family Roots

Shortly, after World War II, I found the roots of the Quesada family tree in Jaen, Andalucia, Spain during my visit. Muslims and Christians formerly fought wars to gain and regain Andalucia many times over. Albeit, in the end, they found everlasting peace-- Jaen -- Islam’s historical place for pilgrims and tourists. Muhammad’s one arm well- preserved is displayed in a church in Jaen. It is a sacred relic.

Creator of Quesadilla

Our Quesada ancestor in Andalucia, were the ones who created the world-renown Quesadilla, a little cheese pie, which could now be found and purchased in any popular latino-stores. Our grand parents were modest Spanish families, that emanated as the keeper of the Castle Arenas in Jaen, respected by Muslims.

Soldier’s Coat of Arms

We have a family Coat of Arms (Blazon de Armas) and the crest was “a ducal de coronet”. Our ancestors were soldiers, businessmen, explorers, and administrators who existed peacefully with Muslims of Andalucia.

Expedition Commanders

Some of them moved to Canary Islands, as Spanish explorers, who commanded an expedition and penetrated into New Grenada, then founded the City of Bogota in 1538. Much later moved to South America and the U.S. Before WW-II, one of them made a name in the U.S. Air Force, Lt. General Elwood “Pete” Quesada in World War II and thereafter. He brought honor to the family as an aviator exemplary in the military.

Muhammad’s Demise

Coming back to Muhammad, he passed away in 632, and was a great loss and crisis to the Islam community. He never made any provisions for any successor. Muslims say, “Prophets has no heirs”. His son Ibrahim by his Egyptian concubine, Mary the Copt, had died in infancy. His closet relative was his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, the husband of Khajdjia’s daughter Fatima was father of Muhammad’s grand children, Hasan and Husayin.

There were many claims, hence were under a cloud. Under such crisis, the Muslim community has to have a ruler, as a successor to the Prophet (Khalifa Caliph).It took a bitter campaign to re-establish order in Medina. Abu Bakr and Umar succeeded Him as Prophet. Persia and fertile Crescent as well as Egypt were conquered for Islam.

The legacy left by Muhammad for traditional Muslims, everything he did, was part of sunna, worthy of more in-depth study of Islam.

In this treatise, it is recommended that readings from the book “Islam" edited by John Alden Williams; studies of Prof. Cantwell Smith; “Allah” by Louis Gardet and `Don Miguel Palacios’s “La Escatologia Musulmania”, where I culled much of what was presented here.

Cavaliers of PMA retired and residing in the U.S.A., never stopped learning from each other. Perhaps their thirst for literature is for knowledge and power with facts in hand. It anticipates life, albeit does not copy, but molds to what is true. A discipline established in the Academy. # # #

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved