Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Muslim Creed, Part 1

It is in fact impossible to explain the Islamic religion in a way most Westerners would understand. The Arabic word for religion is din, which is better translated as ‘submission to law and order’, as opposed to gahl (un­discipl­­ined).[1] Din refers not only to the individual’s belief, but also to a way of living in a very specific manner, according to strict rules laid out by the Koran and suppl­e­mented by trad­itions.

Islam is essentially a layman’s religion with no pope or other undisputed high­­est authority, no ordained priesthood, no hierarchy and no sacraments. The individual Muslim is allowed to form his own opinion on his religious beliefs, as long as he does not criticise the orthodox belief to any major extent, that is beyond the hudud (the sacred limits). Although there are many theological differ­ences (for example between Sunnis and Shiites) there are several fundamental bel­iefs which every Muslim accepts.

The Muslim belief is a collection of various frag­ments of express­ion, made by Muhammed or found in the Koran. In the narrow­est sense, the Muslim central belief would be the shahada, the confession of ‘Allah’s’ unity and Muhammed’s Prophethood, which is the first pillar of faith in Islam. An unbel­iever can convert to Islam by reciting this simple phrase in the presence of two Musl­ims: “I confess that there is no god but ‘Allah’ and Muhammed is the messenger of Allah” (‘la ilaha illa allah; Muh­ammed­on rasul Allah). However, to remain a Muslim he also has to accept the other four pillars of Sunni Islam, and combined they are known as ibadah or ‘holy serf­dom’.

The ibadah was first required by Muhammed during his exile in Medina. The Muslim community (umma) had grown to become a large body of believers, which also included hypocrites, who had embraced Islam for political or economic reasons. Muhammed, and later his most pious followers, used the ibadah to separ­ate the faith­ful from the hypocrites and purify the community. It consists of the five ‘pillars’ of Islam: the shahada, ritual prayers (salat), payments of the poor-tax (zakat), fasting the entire month of Ramadan between sunrise and sunset each day (sayam) and pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime (hajj), if one can afford it. In add­ition to those five, many Muslim scholars have added the compulsion to wage a jihad. Yet these five (six) pillars are only the basic oblig­ations of every Muslim.


[1] Bravmann, The Spiritual Background, 34-36.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What is Islam? Part III.

The concept ‘islam’ has its antagonistic term in Islamic theology. That is the shirk, which theological meaning is to associate ‘Allah’ with another gods. To describe a term such as shirk one has to cover a wide range of explan­ations and theological commentaries.
The core of the Muslim understanding of shirk is the condemnation of anyone who commits such an atrocity, which ‘Allah’ could never forgive.

According to the Koran, ‘Allah’ is one and no other god can be associated with him. This concept was most likely adopted from the South Arabian moon-god ar-Rahman (the Merciful), whose name was later adopted by Muslims as one of ‘Allah’s’ titles. C. C. Torrey states:

The South Arabian inscriptions have brought to light a highly interesting parall­el. In a number of them there is mention of the God, who is styled ‘the Rah­man’ (Merciful). A monument in the British Museum... is espec­ially remark­able. Here we find clearly indicated the doctrines of the divine forgive­ness of sins, the acceptance of sacrifice, the contrast between this world and the next, and the evil of ‘associating’ other deities with the Rahman.[1]

The theological concept of shirk, however, goes beyond the simple denial of ‘Allah’s’ unity. It can also be a superficial piety of Muslims who fulfil their prayer oblig­ation due to peer pressure, force of habit, or some other hypocritical reason. How­ever, there exist two relevant concepts called ‘lesser shirk’ (al-shirk al-asghar) and ‘hidden shirk’ (al-shirk al-khafiy), in the depths of the human’s soul.[2]

Shirk can be almost any­thing if consider­ed in this per­spect­ive. Indeed, Ibn Ishaq tells us about the erection of Medina’s first mosque, when Muhammed worked side-by-side with his followers. One of the Muslim rhymed, “If we sat down while the prophet worked — it could be said that we had shirked.”[3] However, shirk seems to be applied, in the contemporary Musl­im theology, almost exclusively to the original meaning of the word —the association of other gods with ‘Allah’.

Muhammed probably committed this interpretation of shirk when he assumingly associated three Arabian goddesses with ‘Allah’, which is called the ‘affair of the Satanic verses’. Muhammed’s troubles had started when Abu Jahl, one of his most fierce adversaries in Mecca, came to him and demanded that he would stop cursing their gods. Although Muhammed hated polytheism, he had a great respect for the Kaaba, the Meccan place of idol worship, and, at this stage, could not afford to invoke any further hostility. Thus he declared:

Do not revile the idols which they invoke besides Allah, lest in their ignorance they revile Allah with rancour. Thus have We made the actions of all men seem pleasing to themselves. To their Lord they shall return, and We will declare to them all that they have done.[4]

According to Ibn Ishaq, Muhammed then refrained from cursing the Meccan idols, but called them all by the same name, ’Allah’.[5] Muhammed had now merged all the 300-some idols at the Kaaba into the city’s chief deity, calling all of them by the same name.

Thus Islam is the religion of ‘oneness’ as opposite to shirk, which literally means to ‘join together’ or ‘participate’. That implies, that there is no other true religion, and to Islam all men should surrender in submission, in order not to commit shirk and become zindiqs (those who reject ‘Allah’s’ oneness) kafirs (infidels, lit. unbelievers; kufr=unbelief) or mulids (atheists). The Muslim author Fatima Mernissi discuss­es these terms and, after having declared the opposition of islam and shirk, states:

Shirk is the most appropriate word for translating the word “freedom” in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, which is posed as an ideal to be attained. “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this includes freedom to change his religion...”[6]

Thus, if shirk, as the opposite term for islam, stands for freedom of thought, conscience and religion, it is not surprising that Islam has had some problems with facing the Western way of thought, with its democracy and varieties of ‘freedoms’.


[1] Charles Cutler Torrey, The Jewish Foundation of Islam (New York, 1933), 55.
[2] Goldziher, Introduction, 42.
[3] Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, 228.
[4] The Koran 6:108.
[5] Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, 162.
[6] Fatima Mernissi, Islam and Democracy. Fear of the Modern World (London, 1993), 87.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What is Islam? Part II.

The word ‘s-l-m’ refers both to a name of a certain religion (Islam) and a more secular term translated as islam/aslama/muslim. However, as Jane I. Smith points out, there is no real differ­ence between the religious and secular mean­ings.[1] Arent Wensinck explains this combination as follows:

In the Koran the terms islam and iman (faith) are synonymous; muslim and mu’min [believer] comprise the whole body of those who had escaped from Hell by embracing Islam.[2]

When the Islamic Empire was firmly established and ‘secularism’ emerg­ed, the word ‘s-l-m’ came to be under­stood in two ways: both as a relig­ious and a secul­ar concept. Although funda­ment­­al­­­ists and secularists practised the relig­­ion (din) in different ways, they still pro­fessed the same creed and thus had to be recognised as Muslims, regardless of their convict­ion and adherence to its practices.

In fact, the words ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’ were not used by Muhammed until a fairly late period of his prophetic career. The earliest possible date is 2 AH (624 CE) but it probably was later. Before the hijra to Medina, Muh­ammed’s followers were simply called believers (mu’minun) and that name was used even after Muhammed’s death. In fact, mu’minun “is both earlier and more frequently used, occurring 179 times in the Koran as against 37 occurrences of muslimun.”
It is logical to assume that trad­ition is correct when it quotes Muhammed’s words as: “Islam is external, faith belongs to the heart.” Thus, Islam presumably refers to some outward action, not to a mental or spiritual condition. Arent Wensinck continues:

It was the rapid course of events in the first decades following the death of Muhammad - the hostile attitude taken by the previously islamized tribes, the restoration of order by Abu Bakr and his generals, the splend­id feats of arms under Umar, which were followed by the islam­ization of large parts of the ancient world — that made clear to the Comp­­anions, and to the pious generation of their success­ors, that the term ‘Islam’ had obtained a temporal meaning. It seemed as if the narrow path, originally the only way by which the city of Islam could be reach­ed, had been enlarged and paved and become easy highway for the multitudes who came from all sides to embrace Islam.[4]

During the first years after Muhammed’s death, Islam changed its meaning from being a narrow path of warfare and strife, to become an accessible way for the common­er to walk. When Muhammed began to use the word ‘s-l-m’ he simply referred to sold­iers who were willing to die for the faith. In the light of the recent wars of terror­ism some Islamic groups have been waging against Israel, Jews, the West and ‘moder­­ate’ Muslims, one notices their attach­ment to Islam’s original mean­ing. Thus, one could argue that their ‘funda­mental­ism’ really means to turn back to the original meaning of Islam.

This theological question may be explained by referring to the double meaning of the word jihad (‘holy war’), which consists of both ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ jihad. At first this word meant to ‘fight until the end’ — to the utmost of one’s capacity. When the Islamic Empire had been establ­ish­ed the ‘inner’ jihad of one’s personal fight against his ego and sinful desires came into being. The words ‘islam’ and ‘jihad’ took on new and more peaceful mean­ings when Islam developed. They were not only connected with ‘imperial­istic’ expans­ion by force, but the expansion of Islamic values inside oneself and a growing faith (iman) in ‘Allah’. Indeed, Muhammed described the three most important works a man could perform as faith, war in the path of ‘Allah’ and a blameless pilgrimage.


[1] Jane I. Smith, An Historical and Semantic Study of the term ‘Islam’ as Seen in a Sequence of Koran Commentaries (Montana, 1975), 1.
[2] Wensinck, Muslim Creed, 22.
[3] Watt, Early Islam, 35.
[4] ibid, 22-23.
[5] ibid, 27.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What is Islam? Part I.

What is Islam? If someone would ask an orientalist this question, he would probably respond by saying: ‘It is a combination of islam and iman.’ This answer provokes another question; what do these concepts mean?

Iman is usually translated as a ‘personal faith’ or ‘belief’, yet it is not very similar to the Judeo-Christian understanding of that word. It is probably best defined as ‘a shelter from danger’ or ‘protection from enemies’. In the pre-Islamic Arabian society, an outlaw would seek iman after being expelled from his tribe. It refers to his trust in his protector, who would guard him as any other member of his tribe. For an early Arab believer in ‘Allah’, iman simply meant a change of identity. He did not belong any longer to his blood-tribe but to the Islamic umma (community) and would seek protection from ‘Allah’ and his Apostle. It must be noted that there are two kinds of iman; eternal and temporal. ‘Allah’ is believed to be the only one on whom the eternal iman is bestowed and to his creation the temporal iman is given.

The term ‘islam’(s-l-m) on the other hand, is more difficult to explain. At the present time, the universal acceptance of its meaning is ‘submission.’ Many scholars have attempted to describe this term differently and it seems that broader meanings have been established. The most extreme view was proposed by D. S. Margoliouth, who argued that the term ‘Muslim’ (s-l-m) originally referred to the followers of the Arab prophet Musaylimah, who was Muhammed’s con­temp­­or­ary. This view has been turned down by most, if not all, authentic schol­ars. Probably the most logical explan­ation was given by Max M. Brav­mann, who argued that s-l-m meant ‘defiance to death’ and ‘self sacrifice’, related semantically to the word ‘jihad’ (war­like effort). Daniel Easterman suggests that “Muhammed transmogrified the idea, so that it now meant ‘defiance of death for the sake of God [‘Allah’] and His Prophet’.”[2] Thus Islam could very well mean jihad and iman – fight and believe. Bravmann continues:

For it is inconceivable that a man should have joined Muhammad and
his religion without being ready to sacrifice his life in battle (and also his
property) for God [‘Allah’] and His prophet.

According to this interpretation, ‘islam’ (like jihad) was originally a secular
concept, denoting a sublime virtue in the eyes of the primitive Arab: defiance
of death, heroism, in the fight for honour or for what seemed to him the most
notable aspirations. His ideal was to be killed in battle... while surrender to
the enemy was considered ignominious.

Another distinguished authority, Helmer Ringgren, discussed in broad terms this Arabic word and concluded that “the stress lies on totality, not on sub­mission.”
[4] The Koran never does explain this word suff­iciently and therefore we cannot conclude with certainty that, in the beginning, Islam was supposed to mean ‘submission’. However, it also points out that the Arabs knew its meaning and did not need any explanation.

D. Z. H. Baneth asks himself: “Is not a word expressing ‘surrender’, ‘sub­miss­­ion’, ‘resignation’ as a name for the new religion far too spiritual for the social envir­on­ment in which Muhammad had to preach?” His con­clusion is that ‘submiss­ion’ was hardly the concept Muhammed had in mind when he call­ed his religion Islam.
[5] In fact, the passive and peaceful asceticism which was common among Muhammed’s earliest follow­ers and Arabian Christians was denounc­ed by the Prophet. He even took another step and declared: “There is no monasticism (rahb­aniya) in Islam; the monasticism of this community is the Holy War (jihad).”[6] The expans­ion of Islam was to be carried out by force, not peace­­ful pers­uasion, and thus it was only logical to chose an aggressive term for the new religion, which based its existence on warfare and the use of force.


[1] Jeffery, Islam, 157.
[2] Daniel Easterman, New Jerusalems. Reflections on Islam, fundamentalism and the Rushdie affair (London, 1992), 150.
[3] M. M. Bravmann, The Spiritual Background of Early Islam. Studies in Ancient Arab Concepts (Leiden, 1972), 8-9.
[4] Helmer Ringgren, Islam, ‘Aslama and Muslim (Lund, 1949), 13.
[5] D. Z. H. Banath, ‘What Did Muhammad Mean When He Called his religion ‘Islam’? The original meaning of aslama and the deriavatives’, Israel Oriental Studies 1 (1971), 183-150.
[6] Quoted in Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law (Princeton, 1981), 123, 128.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Nature of Islam: The Beginning

1. Islam or Muhammedanism?

Western scholars have often referred to Islam as Muhammedanism, the religion of Muhammed, as compared to Christianity, the religion of Christ. However, Muslims call their religion Islam, and are usually very offended when someone mentions the former name, since they do not, as they say, worship Muhammed.

The Muslim creed states that there is no god but ‘Allah’
[1] and Muhammed is his messenger. Although that seems illogical, Islam focuses clearly as much on Muhammed as Christianity does on Christ. Muslims consider Muhammed’s words sacred as though ‘Allah’ himself had spoken, and thus introduce a semi-divine status to their Prophet. The difference between ‘Allah’ and Muhammed is not very apparent to Muslims who accept the latter as the perfect authority of the former’s will. Many scholars have argued that obedience to the Prophet is really an obedience to ‘Allah’ and thus there seems to be only a minor difference. That understanding is derived from the following koranic passage: “Whoso obeyeth the messenger obeyeth Allah, and whoso turneth away: We have not sent thee as a warder over them.”[2] Although Muhammed was only a mortal man, he is entitled to a semi-divine status in Islam, whether Muslims care to admit that or not.

The fact is that Muhammed was a sinner like everyone else. In the Koran, ‘Allah’ literally asks Muhammed to beg forgiveness for his sins,

[3] and his sinful nature is as well ment­ioned in other Koranic passages. Furthermore, many hadiths (the sayings of Muhammed) mention Muhammed’s sinfulness. On the other hand, many Muslims, including Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Caliph, believed that Muhammed was divine and could not die. Others, as reported by the authentic scholar al-Bukhari, fought over his dirty water from washing, which they drank or smeared over their bodies, if Muhammed’s spit was not available, or a single hair of his body.

Those who accept Muhammed’s words as the perfect authority of right and wrong are elevating this sinful man to the status of a god. If Muhammed really has absolute status in Islam we are justified in referring to his religion as Muhammedanism, or consider Islam as bi-theism (bi-theistic religion). If he was just another messenger, even the most exalted one, we cannot accept his words as the perfect authority of ‘Allah’s’ will. Either way, theological Islam has contradicted itself concerning this issue.

The Sunna of Muhammed

The fundamentals of Islam are the Koran and Muhammed’s sunna (trad­itions). Muslims believe the Koran to be the eternal word of ‘Allah’, the eternal god. If he is its author, then his revelations are not restricted to time, but are valid through eternity. On the other hand, Muhammed’s sunna can only be applied to time, since he was a mortal man. His three basic titles, nadhir (warner), nabi (prophet) and rasul (mess­enger) do not apply any special personal qualities to him.

Muslims presume that Muhammed’s uniqueness is due to his revelations given by ‘Allah’. On the other hand, the prophet Moses (Musa) was the only one with whom ‘Allah’ spoke directly. Miracles as well as other supernatural features were mainly restricted to Jesus (Isa) the son of Mary. Jesus was also the only one who did not die, accord­ing to the Koran, but was taken to heaven by ‘Allah’, and ‘someone like him’ was crucified in his place. It is notable that Muhammed acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah but still, although it is contradictory in terms, denied him being the Son of God.


Indeed, Muhammed had no intention of reigning supreme over the other prophets of ‘Allah’ during the first years of his mission. He simply considered himself as the one whose mission was to purify the holy place of worship in Kaaba and abolish polytheism in his city of birth, Mecca. During the first years of ministry there, Muhammed used to preach social reforms, the Day of Judgement, resurrection from the dead and the unity of ‘Allah’ to polytheistic Meccans. Arent J. Wensinck describes his mission as follows:

The position of Abraham, Moses, Hud, Salih and Jesus, as described in these suras [of the Koran], is really the same as that of Muhammad in Makka [Mecca]; they were Apostles of God like himself... Muhammad’s rank, it is true, is high, but there is no trace of a unique position.[5]

Wensinck continues to quote some Koranic passages and concludes by stating that it “seems impossible to admit that the man who emphasised this idea [of him as an Arab Proph­et] should have regarded himself as a mission­ary to the whole world.”[6] However, after Muhammed was transformed from the status of a social reformer to a warrior-proph­et, he also became the Seal of the Prophets, as the last and most perfect in the long line of messengers of ‘Allah’. The validity of other prophets is beyond doubt, but Muhammed’s uniqueness came to be emphasised, due to this new interpretation.[7]

The real pillar of Islam: Muhammed

Islam stands or falls with the reliability of Muhammed, whose name means ‘highly praised’ in Arabic. The Arab historian Philip K. Hitti noted that Muh­amm­ed was probably an honor­ary title but not his real name.
[8] Indeed the Koran, in sura (chapter) 61:6, calls him Ahmad, but it has been reasonably argued that this sura was inter­­­polated into the Koran.[9] Other sources argue that the relev­ant passage should be trans­lated as ‘ahmadu’ or ‘more praise­worthy’, and thus not referring to a name.[10] Muhammed is also reported to have had several other names, such as al-Aqib, al-Mahi and al-Hazir.[11] Although Musl­ims call him Muh­ammed, his tribe titled him al-Amin, ‘the faithful’ and Abu-Qasim, the ‘father of Qasim’. As Hitti stated, his given name is un­­known to us, and might “remain for­ever uncertain.”[12] However, among the ancient Semites there existed a common custom to use theophorous names. Javier Teixidor explains such a custom the follow­ing way:

A theophorous name is usually given when a child is born; thus names reflect the parents’ piety toward the god under whose protection the new-born is plac­ed. A theophorous name conveys the anxieties, the joy, and the expect­ations of the
The names which are the easiest to understand are the sooth­saying names: nomen is omen. Names showing confidence in the god as being ‘the shelter’ (Arabic ‘wd’) of the new-born: Avidallat (‘Protégé of Allat’) ...
The compulsive force of the name is nowhere as obvious as in the over­whelming use of the term ‘servant’ in Semitic onomastics. From the very first moment the child’s
name ‘Servant of [this or that deity],’ sets the type of life which the new-born
is asked to lead.

In pre-Islamic Arabia we know about such names as Abd’ Allat (abd’=servant), Abd’ Manat, Abd’ al-Uzza, Abd’ Allah, defined by the parents’ belief. If this trend happened to apply to Muhammed, we might suggest that his name was Abd’ al-Uzza (Abdul Uzza). We know that during his younger years, Muhammed sacrificed to the deity al-Uzza, which most likely was his family’s deity. Even the early Muslim writer Ibn al-Kalbi, in his Book of Idols, counts Muhammed amongst the followers of al-Uzza.[14] We know that the name of Muhammed’s first uncle was Abdul Uzza. Concerning this devoted worshipper of al-Uzza, who opposed Muham­med’s mission with fervour, was this revealed in a very early Meccan sura: “He will be plunged in flaming fire...” and thus he was renamed Abu Lahab, ‘the father of flame’, and the name Abdul Uzza vanished. This same model might very well have been used by Muhammed himself and has been frequently applied to later Muslims, such as the boxer Cassius Clay (Muhammed Ali), the NBA star Chris Jackson (Abdul Rauf), and many more.

If Muhammed’s name really was Abdul Uzza this might explain why his real name is neither mentioned in Muslim sources nor by Muhammed himself. And if there is question about the name and nature of Muhammed, it is even more so concerning ‘Allah’.

Introduction to Allah

Allah was a pagan moon-god, worshipped among nomads around the Middle East. His name is, however, not even Arabic. One would think that an Arabian deity would have an Arabic name. But not Allah. Arthur Jeffery, one of the West’s most distinguished authorities on Islam, states:

The common theory is that it [the name of Allah] is formed from ilah, the common
word for a god, and the article al-; thus al-ilah, ‘the god’, becomes Allah, ‘God’. This theory, however, in untenable. In fact, the name is one of the words borrowed into the language in pre-Islamic times from Aramaic.

Most suras in the Koran (all but the ninth) begin with the proclamation: ‘In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.’ This indeed sounds very nice and might have been a very clever introduction to an Arabian deity, if this formula had been made by Muhammed or ‘Allah’ himself. However, those titles, attributed to ‘Allah’, were a formulae composed by the worshippers of the Babylonian deity Baal. All around the Semitic world, the high god’s name —whatsoever that was at each place— was pronounced with such titles as ‘good’, ‘compassionate’, ‘merciful’, and ‘bountiful’.
[16] Those names also appear in the list of 99 additional names the Muslims contribute to ‘Allah’.[17] Thus ‘Allah’s’ titles are borrowed from the pre-Islamic Arabian pagan deities, just as that name itself was borrowed from an Aramaic moon-god in the Syrian cities of Palmyra and Teima.

The fact is that even ‘Allah’s’ most frequently used title, ar-Rahman (the Merciful) was known in South Arabia well before the advent of Islam, and signified a moon-god, whom Muhammed even occasionally confused with or used as a substitute for ‘Allah’. The Koran mentions ar-Rahman occasionally, for example in sura 43:19, which most translators have renamed as God or Allah, since they, as Muhammed, found no difference between these two South Arabian moon-gods.

The name ar-Rahman had even been used by several Arabian prophets before Muhammed, and this deity seemed to have signified a similar, if not the same, position as Allah in Mecca. Therefore we cannot accept the unilateral acceptance of ‘Allah’ as the biblical High God, any more than the Persian high god Ahura Mazda or the Norse Odin.

[1] We want to distinguish between ‘Allah’ — Muhammed’s deity — and the pagan moon-god Allah.
[2] The Koran 4:80 (Throughout this book, Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall’s translation will be used, except where otherwise stated).
[3] The Koran 40:55
[4] The Koran 4:171.
[5] Avent Jan Wesninck, The Muslim Creed (Leiden, 1932), 5.
[6] ibid, 7.
[7] See, Hekhar Bano Hussein, Prophets in the Koran (vol. I: The Early Prophets. London, 1994 and vol. II: The Later Prophets. London, 1995)
[8] Philip K. Hitti, Islam and the West (Princeton, 1962), 8-9.
[9] Alfred Guillaume (transl.), The Life of Muhammad. A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah. (ed. Ibn Hisham, London, 1955), 70. A. Guthrie and E. F. F. Bishop, ‘The Paraclete, Almunhamanna and Ahmad’, Muslim World XLI (1951), 255; William Montgomery Watt, Early Islam (London, 1990), 43-50.
[10] William Montgomery Watt, ‘His Name is Ahmad’, Muslim World XLIII (1953), 110-117; — Early Islam, 43-50, 82.
[11] Ismail K. Poonawala (ed), The History of al-Tabari (vol. IX, The Last Years of the Prophet, New York, 1990), 156.
[12] Philip K. Hitti, The Arabs: A Short History (London, 1968), 23.
[13] Javier Teixidor, The Pagan god (Princeton, 1977), 158-160.
[14] See discussion in; Francis E. Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam (Albany, 1994), 111.
[15] Arthur Jeffery (ed.), Islam. Muhammed and his religion (New York, 1958), 85.
[16] Teixidor, The Pagan god, 1139-140.
[17] See the list of ‘Allah’s’ titles in; Jeffery, Islam, 93-98

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Nature of Islam: Introduction

Is Islam a threat to the Judeo-Christian culture or simply just another mono­theistic religion?

For 40 years or more the Western world has witnessed the rise of Islamism throughout the Muslim world. The Western media refers to the Islamic revolution as ‘funda­mentalism’ while displaying pictures of young men rallying under anti-Western, anti-Israeli and antisemitic slogans. Thous­ands have fallen victim to Islamic terror­ism within the non-Muslim world, which Muslims describe as dar al-Harb (the region of war).

Within the Muslim world (dar al-Islam) tens or hundreds of thousands have been murdered or executed by Muslim fanatics. If we look around the world today, we might notice that Islamic forces are the main source of non-conventional war­fare, just as Communist armies and rebels previously fought legitimate governments and states, and also by oppressing minorities or dissidents under their control. Muslim fanatics all over the world, in all continents, have been terror­ising mod­er­ate Muslims or ‘infidels’ (i.e. Christians, Jews and Hindus). The story of Isl­amic terror­ism appear to be endless and we only seem to have read the first chapt­er.

While the image of Islam is covered with blood, many Muslims live normal and peaceful lives. Of the more than one billion Muslims in the world today, only a minority can be considered fundamentalists. Recently however, the number of extrem­ists has been growing rapidly in the face of Western secularism and the propaganda spread out all over the Muslim world.

Through the power of the ‘black gold’ —the abundant resources of oil in many Muslim states— Islam has secured for itself a place in world affairs and a status of political immunity. The fact is, that the Western world has been become hostage of the Arabian petrodollar, which has paved the way for the massive immi­gration of once cheap-labour Muslims to Europe and North-America. Thus mosques appear in most of the bigger cities in the Western world, and as the proportion of Muslims in Western countries increases, various socio-political problems arise. Muslims usually prefer to submit to Islamic laws, albeit their being in Western countries. It seems, as supported by various polls, that their loyalty is first and foremost directed towards Islam. Many of them are, of course, peaceful and loyal subjects, but, for example, the act of terror that brought down The World Trade Center has hinted to the West, that Muslims have probably long ago replaced Jews or Communists as the imagined or real ‘enemy in our midst’, as the Trojan horse within the Western world.