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Response to Mark Durie

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued
in response to reader comment: Lies and Damned Lies - a response

Submitted by Shepard (United States), Apr 20, 2008 at 13:12

"Contrary to what Shepard implies, I did not say Allah was the devil."

Oh, come off it now. This whole exercise, under the pretense of comparative theology, is just another way of portraying Islam as the outsider religion; Allah as the requisite strange god. The implication is that Bible (or more to the point, the Christian interpretation) is the superior fundamental scripture and the Quran, no matter how similar in theology and dogma, must necessarily be oblique.

The fact of the matter is, many of the subjects on the comparative chart provided are contentious even within Judaism and Christianity. Not to mention between the two entirely disparate religions. Which brings me to a point I somehow manage to neglect in my previous comment. There seems to be a rather large omission in the provided list of Allah's shortcoming. Namely, the Christian dogma concerning the deity of Christ, the Hebrew God's station as one third of the Godhead and the Quran's rejection of such. I suspect this is because of the Biblical God's equally inconvenient insistence on his absolute unity and the animosity shown toward the concept of incarnation.

"Also, the fact that the Alif-Lam root is common to various Semitic languages is quite irrelevant to this issue."

Again, you're being deliberately obtuse. And again, the assumption is that if a scripture does not contain the assumed personal name attributed by the Tanakh to the God of Israel (a name shared by the one of the many Canaanite deities), then somehow it follows that the two Deities are at odds. If this is the case then the same deficiency is apparent in the Christian New Testament (not least of all because of the deification of Jesus). By your logic if Allah were referred to as Theos, the Quran would be a more legitimate holy writ.

"The verse from Isaiah 45:7 which Shepard brings is a most relevant one to reflect upon in this context, but the Hebrew word translated 'evil' (ra') can refer to calamity and trouble, not simply moral evil as the English word implies."

Again, obtuse. As is made clear by reading the full chapter (not to mention Jewish exegesis, which sadly has to be suspended here because of the assumption of Christian supremacy) the context is one of expounding on God's absolute oneness and the impossibility of anything existing outside of His mastery. Even the dichotomy of light and darkness, even if read literally, makes clear the level of omnipotence being asserted by God.

There's also the role of Satan to address, on the matter of moral evil. The conception of good and evil within Islam is defined solely on the gradation of man's observance of God's commands. This relates directly to Mr. Durie's statement that evil exists as rebellion to God's will. Here the devil in Islam functions virtually identical to his Christian and Jewish counterpart. Namely, as a device to test man's faith, an extension of man's own moral frailty. But this is still not to say that God is a dualistic God. In either theology.

When it comes to comparative theology, there is invariably the major stumbling block of denominational consensus. Today there are disputes between Christian and Jews and Muslims on matters that in another time would have required no reconciliation. Predestination? I have only to defer to Calvin. Usury? Before Calvin, there would have been no dispute. To say that any given dogma is lent unequivocal support by a Biblical or Quranic verse is to point to a line in a book of sand.

Ultimately, there's no harm in carrying on such discussions, so long as they remain respectfully academic with no expectation of a definitive conclusion.

Submitting....

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