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Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Apr 19, 2008 at 16:05

I have no like for Islam and if there is a news bulletin today that says that islam is gone for ever just like communism I will be very glad and I will not miss it but the truth always have to be told.

The God of the jews is their ethnic God and their religion belongs only to them. Christians beleive that Jesus is their God but he is a universal God.

Now Muslim theology is confused and confusing as usual. The God of the Qur'an is also an ethnic God (not unlike the God of the Jews) and in the words of Wansbrough "that Quranic imagery underlining the ethnocentric position of prophets (in the Qur'an) is both uniform and consistent (eg: Q14:4, 10:47, 13:8, 35:24, 28:75)"

In other words the Qur'an tells us that islam is indeed the religion of the people of Muhammad only (and based on such imagery we are told in the hadith that Allah sent 120,000 prophets to all nations). And indeed Muhammad is presented in the sira and the hadith as the like of Moses (Notice that I'm not including the Qur'an as I believe that one cannot reconstruct the life of Muhammad by reading the Qur'an only), an ethnic prophet who leads his own people away from idols through an exodus (in this case al-hijra from Mecca to Medina) and a sacred cultic site (Mecca and the ka3bba) and a unique and lingua sacra and that is Arabic and the rest is history.

Now the early Arabs realized that islam was the religion of the Hijazi Arabs only but many non Arabs wanted to convert to Islam and join in the fighting or the looting of their own people (see John of Nikiu). And the solution was non Arabs have to become Arabs first by being sponsored by an Arab (the concept of al-wali wa al-mawali) and then and only then can they convert to Islam. This concept did not work in India as there were too many Hindus and very few Arabs

Now Jesus in the Qur'an is a much more confusing affair: We are told that he is a prophet or a great teacher/Rabbi (see Gospel of Thomas) but we are also told that he is God (creating life and not dying on the cross albeit biidhin Allah).

Now having said all of the above we still have to answer the following:

1. Why did the majority of the people in the Middle East convert to islam? We should have expected that the invading Arabs would have converted to the great religions in the Middle East in the late antique period more so when they were really a drop in the bucket as I understand (and I stand corrected here) that the number of those invading Arabs was about 200,000 vs. 22,000,000 Jews and Christians and Zoroastrians. But the outcome was that the majority converted to Islam

So how can we explain this? I very much agree with Wansbrough that Islam is the product of the great debates in a Judeo-Christian milieu in the late antique period in Mesopotamia and Iran (see Sectarian Milieu) and that islam was a new religion that was still finding its way when the Arab polity invaded the Middle East in 633CE and for reasons we still do not understand this polity opted for this new religion and I do believe that this must be the only logical reason for the mass conversion to this new religion and the fact that the invading arabs did not bring such religion with them from the Hijaz

But this places islam in the Judeo-Christian tradition which I believe is the only way we can view islam, and it also detaches islam from the Hijaz and it places its origins in late antique Iran and Mesopotamia

2. Why did the majority of the people in the Middle East become Arabic speakers when we should have expected to see the invading Arabs becoming Greek or Syriac or Coptic or Persian speakers?

There is no easy answer here.I susepct that the old nation states the likes of Iran and Egypt the outcome was very different. In the case of Iran the Persian language never died thanks to of all things secular literature and in this case Firdawsi's Shahnemah and yes 20% of today's Iranian language is Arabic loan words (and let us not forget that even the Qur'an is full of let us say Syriac words as it is all about the milieu) and in the case of Egypt we now have Egyptian Arabic that is for sure a very different language from classical Arabic (not unlike Italian vs. Latin) where the spoken language reflect the Egyptain civilization and language that was never conjured away

So may be after all old civilizations and their languages are not conjured away

So from the Muslim point of view: is the God of the Jews and the God of the Christians and that of the Muslims one and the same?

The logical answer would be: Muslims say that they share the same God but they must be reminded that Jesus is regarded by Christians as God and the God of the Jews is an ethnic God which means no they do not share the same God.

Submitting....

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