One of the topics that we covered in class that I had the most trouble with is the topic of saint veneration. My understanding of saints and sainthood comes completely from my Roman Catholic background. Growing up, I spent a lot of time around the bible and with this time spent came a developed understanding of sainthood (the catholic ideas of sainthood). Catholic saints become saints through a process known as canonization which is the process by which the official church declares that a deceased person’s actions while they were alive, were so generous and pious that they deserve to be remembered by the church by being put on a canon or a list of saints.
In our discussions the saints we talked about were much different then the saints I am familiar with. The only saints in the Jewish religion were the prophets and scribes like Elijah and Moses; these were called traditional saints. There is no way for new saints in the Jewish religion to be added. For Muslims saints can be recognized as saints by anyone. I am still confused as to whether or not the are universal saints in the Muslim religion other than Muhammad. Another thing that I am confused by is the idea that local villages and towns can have saints who are not recognized as saints by other towns and groups of people.
A few similarities between the two types of saints are that, both groups of saints are capable of having powers. An example of this would be that some saints can control the weather and heal people (this can be seen in Catholic, Jewish and Muslim saint stories). Another thing that I had trouble grasping was the problem the religion of Islam had with saint veneration. There has been a “problem in Islamic cultures where people are going to the graves of saints and the deceased and praying and making sacrifices to the saints. The elders of the church found these practices to be idolatrous and a heresy because the people praying are focusing too much on praying to the saint and not enough time praying to God. The intention of those saints is to be intermediaries to God but instead people are ignoring God and praying directly to the saints for favor.