Man, it's been slow going! Reading up on Islam
is soooooo boring. There are hardly any real miracles, although Islamic
scholars believe that the Qur’an is miraculous by its very nature in
being a 'revealed' text and because of Islam's tradition of not
translating the Qur'an into a different language from the original, any
translations you read are more of a 'literal' translation than most of
the standard Bible translations, so it's like reading Shakespear.
As some of you who regularly read my blogs may know, I like to study religions so that I can attempt to knock 'em down
with logic or point out historical inaccuracies, or show how a cirtain legend is actualy just based on another earlier religion's legends with the names and possibly the location changed, but there's hardly
anything in Islam
to knock or point out. It reads as like Abrahamic religion but without most of
the mystical bullsh!t. What little there is is simply based on the
Judaistic texts of the Old Testament, so I've already covered any
points there in my earlier blogs, but as for the story of Muhammad himself... well there
are many corroborating historical sources for his existence, so he was
more than likely a real man, but he was simply a preacher from Mecca
who claimed to be in constant contact with the angel Gabriel (who
quoted the Qur'an to Muhammad) and who was invited to act as a neutral
outsider to Medina to serve as chief arbitrator for the entire
community. There was lots of fighting between feuding clans at the time
and it had become obvious to them all that the tribal conceptions of
blood-feud and an eye for an eye were no longer workable unless there
was one man with authority to adjudicate in disputed cases. So a
delegation from Medina pledged themselves and their fellow citizens to
accept Muhammad into their community and physically protect him as one
So he upped sticks, and took his Meccan followers with him.
There's a bit here that might
kinda hold a mirror up to Jesus escaping his birthplace from Herod
because the Meccans plotted to assassinate Muhammad before he left.
With the help of Ali, (his cousin) Muhammad fooled the Meccans who were
watching him, and secretly slipped away from the town.
The rest of his story is basicaly made up of Muhammad leading the
Muslims against the Meccans, involving some fighting and lots of
politics and eventualy conquering them and then going on to conquer
northern Arabia and the confederate tribes of Hawazin, although there's
very little actual fighting involved in these conquests because most of
them simply sent emissaries to Medina to surrender to Muhammad and
adopt Islam and he even received the submission of some local chiefs of the region who he hadn't even contacted, let alone threatened.
There's a hadith (oral tradition) known as "The Story of the Cranes"
that's sorta similar to the story of the temptation of Jesus in the
wilderness by Satan (which itself was based on the Egyptian myth of Horus confronting Set in the desert) which describes Muhammad's involvement at the time
of migration which holds that Muhammad pronounced a verse acknowledging
the existence of three Meccan goddesses considered to be the daughters
of Allah, praising them, and appealing for their intercession.
According to this account, Muhammad later retracted the verses at the
behest of Gabriel.
There's also the story of the 'Battle of Badr'
Following the emigration, the Meccans seized the properties of the
Muslim emigrants in Mecca. Uprooted and with no profession, the Muslim
migrants turned to raiding Meccan caravans as an act of war,
deliberately initiating armed conflict between the Muslims and Mecca
and Muhammad apparently delivered some Qur'anic verses permitting the
Muslims to fight the Meccans, which can kinda be viewed as a similar
legends of the Jews who left Egypt, banded together into tribes and
raided the Canaanites.
But if any of these stories are linked in any way to the
earlier legends of Judaism or Christianity, they are so loosely linked
it's practicaly impossible to show that they were simply inspired
stories from the earlier religions and therefore not likely to have
happened at all.
So, unlike the Hebrew Bible, which is full of texts that have obviously
been inspired by the earlier polytheistic religions of Canaan and
Atenism from Egypt, and the Christian New Testament which is full of
texts about Jesus that were obviously inspired by other earlier
religions like the Persian Mithra worship and the Egyptian Horus
worship, there really doesn't seem to be anything major to trip Islam up with.
So I'm afraid if you were expecting me to dig up some real dirt on Islam,
my blog's gonna be a pretty boring read about a Muslim leader who
apparently wrote the Qur'an, (as dictated by Gabriel) even though he
apparently couldn't read or write (doesn't mean he couldn't dictate it
to someone else who could though does it?
) became a religious and political leader of a bunch of people and
ended up conquering quite a large area and united the tribes of Arabia
into a singular Arab Muslim religious polity in the last years of his
Although that motife itself is something that is repeated over and over
again in religion, for example the upper and lower Egyptian tribes
uniting via religion to establish the kingdom of Egypt, the tribes of
the Jews uniting via religion to take on the Canaanites and establish
the Kingdom of Israel, Constantine using Christianity to re-unit the
split Roman Empire, which all basically tells us that religion was
simply just a tool used by leaders and politicians to unite people
towards a common cause.
In Islam, 'Iblis' (Satan) is a jinn (or
genie) who worshipped God so much that God raised him to heaven so he
could worship God in the company of the angels. In contrast to Judaism
and Christianity, in which he is a fallen angel, Islam does not recognise the concept of fallen angels. Angels in Islam do not have free will, therefore it's simply impossible for them to disobey God. But jinns do
have free will, so when God created Adam and breathed life into him and
commanded all present to recognize Adam, Iblis arrogantly defied on
accepting Adam as 'khalifa' ('caretaker', an interesting term, because
in the original Babylonian version of the creation of man that the
Biblical one is based upon, man was made by the gods out of clay for no
other reason than to take care of creation, or, the earth) on earth and
disobeyed God stating that he was made from fire and therefore much
superior to Adam who is made from clay. Then God threw him out of heaven.
So you see, because of Islam's belief that angels do not have
free will, that then affects Islam's belief in the origins of their
version of Satan. It's an example of how one belief has a knock-on effect on another belief, kinda like a 'next logical step'.
In the same way, the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God
eventualy had the knock-on effect that caused the belief that Jesus was
God himself, because Christianity is monotheistic, any son of a god
born to a mortal woman would automaticaly be considered a demi-god,
like the Greek Heracles, which is a purely polytheistic belief, so they
could either back down and say he was just a mortal prophet, as Islam does, or they can go a step further and proclaim him to be God himself.
And as we know, no one likes to back down from their beliefs.
In Islam's version of Heaven, (Jannat) everyone is 32 years old (the
same age as when Jesus ascended) and everyone will have the same build
and stature. Their afterlife includings wearing costly robes,
bracelets, perfumes; partaking in exquisite banquets, served in
priceless vessels by immortal youths; reclining on couches inlaid with
gold or precious stones. Other foods mentioned include fruits, milk,
poultry, scented wine and clear drinks bringing neither drunkenness nor
rousing quarreling. Inhabitants will rejoice in the company of their
parents, wives, and children (provided they were admitted to paradise)
conversing and recalling the past and Islamic texts also relate to "pure
consorts" (houris), created in perfection, with whom carnal joys are
shared "a hundred times greater than earthly pleasure". So here we see an example of how culture shapes religion, basicaly each religion's version of Heaven contains whatever is important to the culture that the religion came from.
So, allow me to end with a note about fundamentalism. Obviously fundamentalism in Islam is the big issue that most people have with Islam, but it's worth noting how Islam became fundamental in the first place. Up until the Crusades happened during the 11th and 12th
centuries, there was a period called the 'Islamic Golden Age', during
which the Islamics were generaly very enlightened, peaceful people.
During this period, (also known as the Islamic Renaissance) artists,
engineers, scholars, poets, philosophers, geographers and traders in
the Islamic world contributed to the arts, agriculture, economics,
industry, law, literature, navigation, philosophy, sciences, sociology,
and technology, both by preserving and building upon earlier traditions
and by adding inventions and innovations of their own.
After the Crusades from the West that resulted in the instability of
the Islamic world during the 11th and 12th centuries, a new threat came
from the East during the 13th century, the Mongol invasions.
Islamic civilization, which had at the outset been creative and dynamic
in dealing with issues, began to struggle to respond to the challenges
and rapid changes it faced from the 12th century onwards. There was an
increasing lack of tolerance of intellectual debate and freedom of
thought, with some seminaries systematically forbidding speculative
philosophy, while polemic debates appear to have been abandoned in the
14th century. So, basicaly Islamic fundamentalism wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the Christian fundamentalism of the Crusades that resulted in a domino effect which in turn resulted in Islamic fundamentalism. Does that in any way defend Islamic fundamentalism? No, of course it doesn't, nothing can, but it's worth pointing it out to Christians that the problem exists today because of what Christianity did hundreds of years ago. It points out that fighting Islam is just gonna make the problem worse.
I disagree with your last point. I think that once you stir up the wasp nest, it won't leave you alone until you die.
My point was that it was mistrust that started it, compounded by hundreds of years of breeding more mistrust, and that the only way to to solve the problems is to end the cycle of mistrust.
mamosa wrote on May 30th, 2009 at 5:45pm :
But why didn't you go into the Islam concept that every generation has a prophet from different places and religions? It's a fairly interesting and ingenious idea.
As far as I'm aware, Muslims regard Adam as the first prophet and Muhammad as the last prophet, hence Muhammad's title 'Seal of the Prophets', although Islamic tradition holds that God sent messengers to every nation.
i read one of you posts on a *cough* Fassa thread and i must say im impressed with your knowledge of Islam, i took a mental note to check ur profile sometime and here i am! this was a very good read, im a Muslim by the way...i dont know what ur religious views are but i like your unbiased approach :-) cheers!
Alijonroth wrote on Jan 2nd, 2011 at 3:54am : i read one of you posts on a *cough* Fassa thread and i must say im impressed with your knowledge of Islam, i took a mental note to check ur profile sometime and here i am! this was a very good read, im a Muslim by the way...i dont know what ur religious views are but i like your unbiased approach :-) cheers!
I'm an agnostic atheist, I'm fully aware that I cannot prove that God doesn't exist, but I don't believe he does.
A awhile ago, a Muslim asked me about my beliefs and when I told him that, he said "But you have to keep an open mind on these things" to which I replied "I do, that's what agnosticism is actualy all about, saying that it's impossible to know whether God exists or not, infact I keep a more open mind than you do because I accept the possibility that God may not exist whereas you do not."
He thought about that for a moment and shook my hand, it was meeting point of mutual respect that felt quite profound at the time.