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More light, Less heat! Please! (Common views and perceptions are important)

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God?

Submitted by CAPT GWK (United States), Jul 5, 2005 at 17:21

Dr. Pipes, this is a very controversial topic, and it dovetails two of the three forbidden subjects of polite conversation (i.e., "do not talk about politics, religion or sex"). Perhaps someone bright will find a way to bring all three forbidden topics into one blog.

Nevertheless, I perceive an attempt to bring light to the subject. BZ! If we all tried to do this we might be able to all have a peaceful lunch together and build a constructive life for all.

To a Muslim, I have heard that the Qu'ran is inviolable. It is the truth of all truths, and the only time God (or Allah, if you will) gave his words directly to man. (They do not believe in the 10 Commandments, and as I understand it, there is no mention of the giving of the commandments by God to man in the Qu'ran.) Because God gave this instruction book to Mohammed, he is considered to be the vessel of God's wisdom.

While there are great similarities between Islam and the scriptural lessons of Christianity and Judaism, there are a number of other significant points of divergence. These cannot be swept under the rug, because if we are to all get along, we have to have no false preconceptions that we are all alike. We have to come to grips with the things that really make our beliefs and values different. Platitudes are a recipe for a sucker punch from out of the blue when someone isn't as cavalier about their beliefs as we had been taught that they would be.

To the Christians, it's important to recognize that the concept of the Trinity was never assured -- and some of Islam's predecessor religions, especially in North Africa, were the monophysite heresies. In fact, in the Centuries after Jesus, wars were fought between various groups of Christians over which dogma was "true" and which was heretical. The Trinity concept won out, but many Christians who did not believe in the Trinity ended up living in regions where Mohammed's trade routes took him, and it is likely that by the time the Qu'ran was revealed to Mohammed, that he had already been influenced by believers of various Christian heresies, as well as to more mainstream Christians and Jews of his age, and to various other Baalists and Kushites, who would have believed in more exotic conceptions of God.

Now to today's Salafists, it is important to realize that they took their cue from Sheik ibn Wahhab, who lived during the era of European colonialism, and in fighting off the Europeans seized on the Qu'ran as a tool for mobilizing the people of Arabia against the would-be colonizers. In a stroke of genius, he proclaimed all the European colonizers as "kafir", fit for summary execution, because of their polytheistic beliefs. Referring to the Christian places of worship, he documented idolatry and believers praying to statues. (Could you say he was wrong? Then how would you explain to a conservative Muslim who believed in a transcendental deity as part of a religion that forbade idol worship the European's multiplicity of religious icons, statues, crucifixes, and baubles?) Referring to the Christians' deification of Jesus and the amplification of that to the belief of God in three forms, Wahhab called this a clear example of polytheism, and another violation of the admonitions of the Qu'ran. The Qu'ran clearly and repeatedly says that God was never made human and that he could neither die nor be born. Clearly, the Salafist theologians have a lot going for them when they seek to demonize westerners and the Dawaatists (evangelical Muslims) seek to save non-believers by convincing them of their errors.

If we refuse to lay out the differences unemotionally on the table for them to be reviewed in the light of day, how will we ever know what our differences really are?
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