Oh the Things They Say About Islam

Republican political theology is clear with regards Islam, which in all respects it treats as the new Communism: Allah is a demon god (McCain’s “spiritual guide” in 2008, Rod Parsley preferred the term “demon spirit”; Islam is a pagan religion. Obama is an “Islamophile” and as Gary Bauer claimed in 2010, and no doubt many Republicans believe, “Obama’s left-wing progressivism varies with Islamism on many issues. But their adherents find common cause in a common enemy: the Judeo-Christian worldview at the heart of Western democracy.” One fundamentalist blog offers (from June 7 of this year) the following gem, based on a variety of very common claims made on the right:

The off-base Emerging Church is encouraging pastors to embrace an ecumenical concept of combining Christianity and Islam, actually partnering with Islam, to launch a new religion called…Chrislam—which would combine the two. So far, they have managed to gather 130 Christian leaders who collectively state that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. No they do not!  Allah was the Arabic name for a higher power, or a god. Mohammed ‘s god was Allilah, the moon god which conveniently became the generic name for a god, Allah. This is why a crescent moon and star is on the flag of Islam and mosques. Let this be clear.

There are so many things wrong with this paragraph it is difficult to know where to begin. But we must try because it embodies core Republican beliefs about the world’s second largest religion. We will start with the “Emerging Church” which the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry identifies thusly: “The Emerging Church is a movement that claims to be Christian.” This pretty much tells you into what territory we are headed. The crux of CARM’s disapproval (and the blogger’s) is the idea that religion can in any sense move forward. If you are not looking back, embracing old stereotypes and paradigms and adopting old hatreds as your own, you are not and cannot be a Christian.

And Chrislam? There is such a thing as Chrislam – according to Wikipedia it has about 1,600 adherents. It was founded in Nigeria in the 1970s, uses both the Qur’an and Bible and has nothing at all to do with the work of the Emerging  Church.

The idea that moderating Christian attitudes toward other religions in some way damages Christianity is a lamentable one. Doing so in no way creates an entity known as “Chrislam.” It is in fact a refreshing course-change after nearly 2,000 years of Christian holy war against every alternative to itself. Most folks call this progressive attitude “interfaith” dialogue. It is a form of communication that is distinct from the syncretism the blogger worries so much about. Promoting understanding, cooperation and goodwill between religions as opposed to say, holy war, does not necessitate abandonment of one’s beliefs. Tolerance is by definition accepting something that you don’t approve of. You don’t have to like another religion, or agree with it, let alone adopt any of its tenets, to tolerate it. Toleration, contrary to the attitude of religious fundamentalists, is a good thing.

Another problem is that Allah and God and YHWH are indeed the same God. Allah as a word has nothing to do with a moon god, though it was used by pre-Islamic Arabians for a creator deity. Allah means simply “the God.” It is, in fact, the only word for “God” that exists in Arabic. As the Qur’an says in Surat al-‘Ankabut (29):46: “Our God and your God is one.”

The blogger’s claims about the crescent are equally absurd. Neither Mohammed nor any of his successors used the symbols of the crescent and when it was finally used it was for secular, not religious, purposes. Its current use is entirely modern in origin and as one expert says, “an interesting eple of projection and acceptance, from a dominant culture to others…that is, the dissemination of the manners and customs of Christendom” (as an equivalent of the cross).[1] As for being a moon symbol, the arc is incorrect. There were pre-Islamic states in Arabia which, like other ancient cultures did use a moon crescent, but Islam did not. Furthermore, the Roman city of Constantinople had as its city’s symbol the moon crescent. When the Ottoman’s captured the city, they adopted it as their own, along with the name of the Roman Empire it had conquered, Rum for its European holdings, and for Rome’s old holdings in Asia Minor, Rumelia (Lesser Rome).

And the claim that Allah’s god is “the moon god” is amusing when one considers the origins of YHWH/God, whose name invokes, as the Old Testament itself makes clear, northwest Arabia; Judges 5.5 and Psalms 68.8, as Robin Lane Fox points out, “refer to him in words which probably mean the ‘One of Sinai’.[2] In other words, (irony of ironies) YHWH isn’t even a Jewish god but an Arabian god. It is similar to the claim made at Wikislam.net with regard Islam’s Pagan origins:

Islam is a monotheistic bastardization of the pre-Islamic polytheistic religion followed by the inhabitants of 7th century Arabia. Its pagan heritage is clearly evident.

Both Judaism and Christianity are bastardizations of Pagan religions – Judaism of Canaanite religion and Christianity of Greco-Roman religion AND Canaanite religion via the so-called Old Testament. Their pagan heritages are clearly evident. Why attack Islam for polytheistic origins when your own are so much in evidence?

The opposition of Republican political theology to Islam amounts to no more than hocus pocus. Besides a good deal of projection there is a large element of “don’t look at what we’re doing! They’re the bad guys” even though the Mosaic Law Republican’s wish to impose is really no different than the Sharia Law they so vehemently oppose. One way or another, America ends up looking like Afghanistan and Washington D.C. turns into Kabul, with morality police on every street corner. In the end, Republican political theology can no more make a non-religion-based claim against Islam than it can against Marriage Equality or Women’s Reproductive Rights. Sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, you won’t see one based on science (and if they have their way, you won’t see any science at all).

[1] Bernard Lewis and Buntzie Ellis Churchill, Islam: the Religion and the People (Wharton School Publishing, 2009), 46-47.

[2] Robin Lane Fox The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible (NY: Vintage Books, 1991), 53. And as Fox points out, “We do not know where Mount Sinai was.” Though many sites have been suggested, the popular assignment is the Jebel Musa (“mountains of Moses”) but this is only a guess and the evidence in its favor dates from the early fourth century, during the life of Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, when two monks saw the burning bush itself, thus identifying the missing mountain. But even the Jebel Musa makes YHWH a foreign – Arabian – god. And of course, the name Sinai may well have come from Sin, a lunar deity. In his recent special The Exodus Decoded, James Cameron suggests Hashem el-Tarif but this is an Egyptian military site and forbidden to archaeologists.

15 Replies to “Oh the Things They Say About Islam”

  1. Sinai could have been any mountain from which the moon appeared to rise or behind which it appeared to set – that is, the same mountain, depending on which side you were on. Isaac Asimov made the case that if Moses had taken forty years to get to Canaan via Gaza, he’d have had to be dumb as a rock. Another writer-someone whose name escapes me, and whose scholarship was otherwise not remarkable- stated that a forty-year journey was far more likely if the Israelites had crossed out of Egypt at the Eastern narrows of the Red Sea and then traveled along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Along that route, near the base of a volcano since dormant, petroglyphs and the traces of human encampment have been found. It’s not out of the question that this was the real Sinai.

  2. Sorry about the tangent- I had the same thought as Asimov, even before I read his excellent work on the Old Testament. It’s clear, though, that aside from the deep psychological need of Dissocialists to create an Other to demonize, it’s politically enormously to their advantage to do so. After all, they have nothing else to offer “the little people”, except the conviction that by persecuting “them”, they will at last become one with “us”, in spite of economic exclusion. They never want “ril uhMericuh” to wake up one day to the discovery: We have met the enemy, and they are us.”

  3. Without veering off topic too far, it must be emphasized that, historically, people get absolutely fed up of the “Alpha Dog Religion Syndrome” of the major world religions; people become “intolerant” of the dogma, ritual, clinging to the past and all the perversion that follows…it’s an endless loop of bullshit routine instead of a path to understanding. Hybrid versions create new sects that “tinker” with the system, but, never really change it(make a new religion).

    With that said, the last time we had a “fault line” that ran through the world’s system was the formation of the 8th world religion, Sikhism. Those folks were not just “intolerant” of Muslim jihad and the Hindu caste system, they were down to the nub; they were fighting for their lives!

    Without reciting the entire history of Nanak and Mardana, they only way they made a dent in the system was to defy, mock, laugh, trick, undermine and sing about the stupidity and violence of both systems; they created a (gasp!) dialect that wound up creating a movement toward bringing people together…They worked sort of the way Stewart and Colbert operate…Nooooooo! Did I just imply that Stewart and Colbert are reincarnations of Nanak and Mardana??? I digress…(and dream out-loud)

    My point being, intolerance of religion occurs when the people belonging to religious inner circle become oppressors of the soul instead of “liberators” of enlightenment; intolerance, or “disrespecting” of these institution isn’t such bad thing…especially since they’re just “myths”.

  4. …(my “grammar” is terrible this morning and I apologize…it’s still early on the liberal west-side)

  5. Let me recommend La Naviera Cuban coffee, a perfect balance of stimulating caffeine and soothing chicory for the morning.

  6. ☛If you go far enough back into antiquity you will find that the God of the Israelis was once one of seven gods that they worship. Jehovah was the war God and he was the one one out over the other six. Will which explains the propensity for the Israelis to constantly be at war back at that time.

    Christianity and the Bible of the Israelis is a picked apart torn up religion. It reminds me of the Republicans reading the Constitution, but only reading those parts that they like. That’s how the Bible is used today except in the most base areas of Christian expression.(semi-normal xtians)

    If you put Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists side-by-side in a lineup, the only differences would be that one is wearing sheets and the other is wearing a shirt. Neither is so much for their religion as they are for domination ☚

  7. Something interesting (and slightly off topic) – recently I learned that there used to be a town “Yah” during the days when Moses would have lived (if he really existed).. and the proper name for the god of that town would have been YHWH.

    (There are also some indications that the early Jews may have included people from that town.)

    Remember the discussion where it was said that all religions are essentially syncretic in origin?

  8. Hey, it distracts the feebleminded from what the 1% is doing to ’em, eh? Be afraid, be very afraid (while I pick your pocket and screw you family).

  9. Abraham is the common ancestor of all three of these religions. How does that gel with attacks on the foundations of Islam?

  10. Ahhh…thank you; we ran out of “whatever blend de jour” last night! I will pass on your suggestion to my “HBP”(my house-hold-coffee-purchasing/maker-hormonal bondage partner-in-crime). We’ll give it a try…

  11. If you believe in the existence of one god, you have to believe in the existence of your neighbors god. If theres one, theres bound to be more.

    Jesus is no more truth than Mohammed

  12. If you say it backwards, truth is the christ and only jesus is false as are all organized religions, then, is that a fallacy or logic, or, is it the same as mountain of logical fallacies that are backwards?

    Na-uh-uh, no cheating, “Ray-Nay”, let Mark in the Dark answer…

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