A Catholic Christian response to the Muslim tract The True Religion.
Islamic apologetics is always rather amusing, in that it asks Christians to make all sorts of wild and sloppy assumptions which have little if any regard for factual history, and are often based on a pronounced ignorance of both documented evidence and the authentic Christian Faith. The Muslim tract entitled The True Religion, authored by someone named Abu Ameenah (Bilal Philips) is no exception.
For, it begins by making the untenable claim:
The first thing that one should know and clearly understand about Islam is what the word “Islam” itself means. The religion of Islam is not named after a person as in the case of Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ, Buddhism after Gotama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucious, and Marxism after Karl Marx. Nor was it named after a tribe like Judaism after the tribe of Judah and Hinduism after the Hindus. Islam is the true religion of “Allah” and as such.
Christianity is not necessarily “named” after someone either. “Jesus” was and is the Name of our Lord; but we do not call ourselves “Jesusians” or our religion “Jesusism”. Rather, “Christianity” comes from the Greek word “Christos”, which means “Anointed One” – “Messiah” in Hebrew. So, our Faith is named after the fact that we accept Jesus of Nazareth as our Messianic King. And, in this, the Name of our Faith is very similar to that of Islam, since it refers to a kind of “submission” or, more accurately, a loving recognition of Jesus’ Divine Kingship. This is why we are called “Christians” – that is, we are followers and acceptors of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised King / Christ / Messiah of God. So, in terms of our Name, we Christians merely happen to be very specific about What and Who we “submit” to. Islam, however, at least as far as its name goes, does not clarify exactly what it calls people to submit to.
What’s more, while the name “Islam” itself may not refer to a person or a founder, the “submission” that Islam demands certainly does. For, in order to be a member of Islam, one must give submission, not only to God, but to Mohammad as well. For, the central expression of Islam is this:
There is One God, Allah, and Mohammad is His prophet.
Now, we Christians have no problem with this first part. Like Muslims, we Christians are happy to submit to the God of Abraham and declare that the God of Abraham (whether He is called “Yahweh”, or “El”, or “Allah” … “Allah” is merely the Arabic version of the Hebrew Name “El” or “Elohim”) and proclaim that this God of Abraham is the One and only God. Like Muslims, we are faithful to the Commandment given by God / Allah to Moses:
I Am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods beside me.
So, we Christians are totally submissive to God Himself. But, Islam isn’t satisfied with that. One is not yet a Muslim if one merely declares “The is One God, Allah.” Rather, Islam demands an additional pronouncement – it demands that one also confess that “Mohammad is [God’s] prophet.” Now, we Christians obviously cannot confess such a thing (for many good reasons); and Muslims condemn us for it, calling us “infidels” and “heretics” because we will not “submit” to the principal that Mohammad is (supposedly) a prophet. But, why is it necessary for Christians to accept that Mohammad is a prophet in order to be “submissive” to God? If Islam is merely submission to God, then both Christians and Jews are already Muslims; for both Christians and Jews do submit to God and declare that there are no gods apart from Him. There is only One God, the God of Abraham. So, why must we “submit” to Mohammad as well? Is Mohammad God? Were we created by Mohammad? Is Mohammad our savior? Can Mohammad take away sins or bring us back to life on the Last Day? If not, then why must Muslims declare “…and Mohammad is His prophet” in order to truly “submit” to God? This principal illustrates that, despite the claim above, Islam is dependent upon a person – namely, Mohammad. In Islam, it is not enough to submit to God (Allah). One must also submit to the authority of Mohammad. So, the word “Islam” (“submission” in Arabic) really means that one must submit to both: Allah and also Mohammad. It does not mean submission to the authority of God alone. If it did, then the Muslims would have no right to criticize Christians or Jews who believe in, and submit to, the God of Abraham.
Furthermore, it should also be noted that the members of the Church of Jesus were not always called “Christians”. The term “Christian” was applied to our forefathers by Greek pagans in the city of Antioch about 10 years after Christ ascended into Heaven (see Acts 11:19-27), and it was originally a derogatory term that applied only to Gentile believers in the Gospel, as opposed to the original Jewish Christians. Before this time, the disciples of Jesus were known to their fellow Jews as “Nazarenes” (because they came from Galilee and followed Jesus of Nazareth) or, among the Jewish Christians themselves, the Christian Faith was known simply as “the Way” (e.g. Acts 9:2, Acts 18:25-26, Acts 19:23, Acts 24:14, Acts 24:22, etc.) – that is, the true expression of Israel under the New Covenant of the Messiah. This, again, shows that the Christian Faith is not necessarily named after a person per se, but refers to the true religion of the one God.
Yet, the Muslim tract continues…
Its name represents the central principle of Allah’s “God’s” religion; the total submission to the will of Allah “God”. The Arabic word “Islam” means the submission or surrender of one’s will to the only true God worthy of worship, “Allah”, and anyone who does so is termed a “Muslim”.
Well… As I pointed out above, Islam does not only require that people submit to God (Allah). If it did, then Muslims would have no room to criticize Christians or Jews, since Christians and Jews do submit to the will of God and recognize Him alone as God. Rather, Islam also requires that people submit to the authority of Mohammad, and, if someone does not recognize that Mohammad is a prophet, then this person is declared to be “un-submissive” – that is, not a Muslim. And so, being a Muslim is not simply a matter of submitting to God. This is obvious for any intelligent person to see. To be a Muslim, one must submit to the authority of Mohammad. And, again, we must ask: Why so? Is Mohammad God? Is it not enough to submit to God Himself? The followers of Islam consistently fail to address this problem.
What’s more, the Islamic faith simply gets it wrong when they say that the central principle of God’s religion is “total submission”. This reveals the cold and legalistic nature of the Islamic faith, which is not so much a religion as it is a theocratic “state cult” – like that of the Byzantine Empire’s use of Catholic Christianity (the Catholic Faith applied, legalistically, to a political cause) or like that of the medieval Persian Empire’s use of the Zoroastrian religion. The true religion of God, however, asks for more than mere submission to God. It asks that we LOVE Him, even as He loves us! This is the central principal of both Judaism and Christianity – to “LOVE the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole soul” and then, because of this, to “love your neighbor even as you love yourself.” This sums up the Mosaic Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Islam, however, is not a religion of Divine love, but a religion of obedience based primarily on fear and power. This is the basic problem with it.
The Muslim tract continues…
The word also implies “peace” which is the natural consequence of total submission to the will of Allah.
It may “imply” it, but it does not really mean it. Sure, there is “peace” after you conquer your enemies and force them to accept your authority against their will. But, this is not a real and lasting peace. This is not a peace based on love. Again, this is the basic problem with Islam. Islam does not require you to love God or to be holy even as He is holy – i.e., in the context of an intimate relationship with Him. Rather, one is only required to obey the basic principles of a very cold and legalistic set of rules. Islam is a system for keeping people “in line” through a sense of social piety. It does not call people to a deep, interior holiness. It does not ask too much from the believer; and it does not produce saints.
The tract continues…
Hence, It was not a new religion brought by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Arabia in the seventh century, but only the true religion of Allah re-expressed in its final form.
History shows otherwise. For, what is abundantly clear to any honest and intelligent person is that the doctrines of Islam do not correspond to many of the doctrines of the Jewish and Christian faiths that preceded Islam. Rather, Islam claims many things that are stark contradictions to the ancient and well-documented doctrines of Judaism and Christianity, stretching back (in terms of Christianity) over 600 years before Mohammad was born, and (in terms of Judaism) almost 2,000 years before Mohammad was born. And while Judaism and Christianity certainly disagree on certain things, they do not contradict each other’s historical witness or objective viability. For, even the most anti-Christian Jew must admit that Christianity builds upon the tenets of the Jewish faith without contradicting or changing the details of the Jewish Scriptures. (Jews merely think that Christian misinterpret the Scriptures on several counts, not that we deny them or contradict them). But, the situation with Islam is very different. For Islam directly contradicts several ancient and well-documented tenets of both the Jewish and the Christian faiths. Indeed, Islam contradicts the very historical record itself! For example, Islam holds that it was Ishmael, and not Isaac, who God commanded Abraham to offer in sacrifice atop Mount Moriah. But, the ancient Hebrew Scriptures and all of Jewish and Christian tradition say otherwise. Indeed, both Genesis 22:1-18 and Hebrews 11:17-19, James 2:21, Romans 9:7, and Galatians 4:28 – that is, both the Old Testament and the New Testament – claim that Isaac was the one who Abraham was told to sacrifice. No one believed otherwise until Mohammad made it up in the 7th Century. Likewise, Islam teaches that Jesus was never really crucified, but that another person was crucified in His place. Now, in this, the Muslims actually have a historical precedent; since, in his book Against the Heresies (written in A.D. 180), the Church father St. Ireneaus of Lyon says that there were some Gnostic heretics who claimed that another man was crucified in Jesus’ place. But, unlike the Muslims, who believe that Jesus was only a man, the reason that these ancient Gnostic heretics denied that Jesus was crucified was because they believed that Jesus was not a human being at all. Rather, the Gnostics believed that Jesus was an “aeon” – a kind of “angel”, who did not possess a human body at all (but only appeared to have a body); and of course someone who is not human and does not have a body cannot be killed on a cross. So, the Muslim claim that Jesus was never crucified does not appear (as the Muslims understand it) until Mohammad created the idea in the 7th Century. Indeed, no orthodox Christian ever denied the reality of Jesus’ death on the Cross (or Jesus’ true humanity); and even Jewish tradition accepts that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the Romans and died. So, the idea that Islam is “not a new religion” or that it is merely a “continuation” of the religion of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus is demonstrably incorrect. Islam contradicts things that both Jews and Christians hold in common, and have always held in common. It is a departure from true Tradition and sound Faith.
The tract continues…
Islam is the religion which was given to Adam, the first man and the first prophet of Allah, and it was the religion of all the prophets sent by Allah to mankind.
If this were true, the Islam would not contradict what was written and taught by the Jewish and Christian prophets who came before Islam. But, the fact that Islam does contract the Jewish and Christian prophets shows that Islam is a new, man-made religion, and not of God. In Galatians 1:6-8, St. Paul says that
…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a Gospel other than the one we preached to you, let that one be accursed!
This was written under the inspiration of God over 600 years before Mohammad preached Islam – that is, before Mohammad claimed that an angel revealed the doctrines of Islam to him. And since the doctrines of Islam represent a “different Gospel” from the one delivered by the Apostles (and by all the Hebrew prophets who came before them –see Ephesians 2:19-20), it therefore follows that the curse of God falls upon Mohammad and all who spread the false doctrines of Islam – that is, those Islamic doctrines which contradict the Judeo-Christian Tradition. A Christian must believe this. A Christian must be faithful to Scripture, to the ancient, consistent and unbroken Apostolic Tradition, and to objective historical reality! Islam violates all of these things. And any honest and intelligent student of history can see it.
The tract continues…
The name of God’s religion, Islam, was not decided upon by later generations of man. It was chosen my Allah Himself and clearly mentioned in His final revelation to man. In the final book of divine revelation, the Qur’aan, Allah states the following: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Soorah Al-Maa’idah 5:3)
If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah (God)) never will it be accepted of Him (Soorah Aal’imraan 3:85)
Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but an upright Muslim. (Soorah Aal’imraan 3:67)
Nowhere in the Bible will you find Allah saying to prophet Moses’ people or their descendants that their religion is Judaism, nor to the followers of Christ that their religion is Christianity.
Needless to say, this is a silly argument, since it asks Christians to presume that the Koran (or Qur’aan) is Divinely-inspired Scripture. Obviously, neither Christians nor Jews recognize the Koran to be inspired Scripture, but a simple, man-made document that is not of God. And we must believe that because the Koran directly contradicts both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Christian New Testament.
I must also point out and repeat that, despite the parentheses inserted by the author of this tract into his quote from Soorah Aal’imraan 3:85 above, if “Islam” is defined merely as “submission to Allah (God)”, then both Jews and Christians are already Muslims and no one can criticizes us, since we do submit to God. But, once again, Islam actually demands more than submission to God Himself. It also demands that one submit to the authority of Mohammad, and this is what Jews and we Christians refuse to do, because Mohammad taught things which are wrong and which contradict the ancient, consistent, and well-documented Judeo-Christian Tradition. This, once again, is obvious for any honest and educated person to see.
Likewise, Genesis 14:13 directly calls Abraham a “Hebrew” – that is, a Jew. And, in Galatians 3:27-29, St. Paul says that Christians are the full heirs and children of Abraham, along with the Jews. This is because the Catholic Church is the true Israel – the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). Again, the Koran contradicts both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Yet, the tract continues…
In fact, Christ was not even his name, nor was it Jesus! The name “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos which means the anointed. That is, Christ is a Greek translation of the Hebrew title “Messiah”.
So what? I said this myself above. And, as I illustrated, this supports our position, not the Islamic position.
Yet, the Muslim continues…
The name “Jesus” on the other hand, is a Latinized version of the Hebrew name Esau.
This statement reveals a profound ignorance of the Hebrew language and of the true origins of the Name “Jesus”. The author of this Muslim tract is clearly not very well educated. Now, he is correct that the English form of the Name “Jesus” comes from the Latin “Iesus”. However, this is merely a Latin transliteration of the Greek Name “Iasous”, which is what Jesus Christ is called in the New Testament Scriptures, which were written in Greek. However, Jesus and the Apostles were not native Greek-speakers. Rather, their native language was Aramaic, and Jesus’ Name in Aramaic was/is “Yeshua”. So, He was really called “Yeshua”, which was rendered in Greek as “Iasous”; and in Latin (and English) this becomes “Jesus”. However, the Aramaic name “Yeshua” does not mean “Esau” at all. Rather, “Yeshua” is merely the Aramaic form of the Hebrew name “Yoshua” or, in English, “Joshua” – the name of the assistant of Moses and the leader of the Israelites after Moses’ death. And the name “Joshua” or “Yeshua” means, in Hebrew, “Yahweh is Salvation”, even as we are told in Matthew 1:21. The name “Esau”, on the other hand, means “ruddy” or “reddish” – someone with reddish skin or a red complexion (see Genesis 25:24-25), and it has nothing to do with the name “Joshua”, which is the origin of the Name “Jesus”. What’s more, it is a historical fact that the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek about 200 years before Jesus was born; and when the name for Moses’ assistant Joshua was translated into Greek, it was written “Iasous” – the SAME NAME-FORM that is used for Jesus Christ in the Greek New Testament Scriptures, which, in Latin, becomes “Jesus”. So, I’m sorry to disappoint our Muslim author, but “Iasous” / “Jesus” WAS Jesus’ real Name. This was the Name that would have been spoken to His face by Pontius Pilate (a Latin speaker) and by the Greek-speaking Jews who Jesus knew.
Indeed, the Muslim author shows not only ignorance, but also a great lack of sensitivity for the fact that historical names (that is, any historical name) are pronounced differently in different languages. For example, few English-speaking Muslims refer to Mohammad as “Abu l-Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Hashimi al-Qurashi”, which was the man’s real, historical name. And, even in English itself, there are several valid spellings and pronounciations of his name – e.g. Mohammed, Muhammed, Mahomet, etc. The situation with the Holy Name of Jesus is no different. There are many different forms of the SAME Holy Name – “Yoshua” (in Hebrew), “Yeshua” (in Aramaic), “Iasous” (in Greek), “Jesus” (in Latin and English), depending on which language one is using. Anyone educated in ancient languages knows this.
But, the tract continues to spew ignorance, saying…
For simplicity’s sake, I will however continue to refer to Prophet Esau (PBUH) as Jesus.
Jesus was never called “Esau”. The names “Esau” and “Yoshua” / “Yeshua” have no relation to each other. The origin of the Muslim error was when Arabic-speaking Muslims (who were familiar with the name “Esau” – both a Hebrew and an Arab name) heard Greek-speaking Christians referring to Jesus as “Iasous” – pronounced “EE-ay-soos” in Greek, and they heard this as “EE-soos”, and assumed (wrongly) that it was the same as “Esau”. So, here again, we see that Islam bases its beliefs upon ignorance and distortions of documented history. Jesus was called “Iasous” by the Greeks, and the name “Iasous” was the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Yoshua” (“Joshua”), NOT the name “Esau”. This is a historical fact, documented by the example of the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, in which the Hebrew name “Yoshua” (“Joshua”) was translated into Greek as “Iasous” in 200 B.C. – that is, 200 years before Jesus was born. “Iasous” NEVER meant “Esau”. The first Arabic-speaking Muslims who jumped to that conclusion were ignorant and simply wrong.
And the tract goes on…
As for his religion, it was not what he called his followers to.
Says who? And based on what evidence?
Like the prophets before him, he called the people to surrender their will to the wil of Allah; (which is Islam) and he warned them to stay away from the false gods of human imagination.
Christians do not follow any “false gods of human imagination”. If you think otherwise, then you are as ignorant of Christian theology as you are of history and the Greek and Hebrew languages. What’s more, the teachings of Jesus are consistent with the teachings of the Old Testament prophets, but NOT with the novel teachings of Mohammad. Mohammad contradicts both the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Christ. This is why we are correct to reject him.
According to the New Testament, he taught his followers to pray as follows: “Yours will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
According to the New Testament, Jesus taught lots of things, but Muslims reject many of them because they pick and choose what to accept based on their silly belief that Mohammad’s Koran is the only document which should not be questioned – that is, again, despite the fact that it wildly contradicts the ancient and historically-documented Scriptures that came before it. For, Jesus also says “I and my Father are One and the Same” and “Before Abraham was, I AM” – “I Am” in Hebrew being a play on the Name “Yahweh” – the Name of God! Yet, Muslims (without an ounce of evidence for doing so) claim that these New Testament verses are “distortions” of the original text. But, such a view is willful ignorance and blindness. According to the REAL historical evidence, Christ taught that He is God – one in Being with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Muslims have no right to pick and choose which parts of the New Testament they will accept. They may not, on one hand, call the New Testament inspired Scripture, but then (without an ounce of evidence) reject those parts of it that they do not like. The Muslims cannot reasonably have it both ways. But, then again, who ever said that Islam is a “reasonable” religion? In accepting Islam, a person must throw the God-given gift of reason out the window. This is the sad reality.
The tract then goes on to discuss Islamic doctrines. It says…
THE MESSAGE OF ISLAMSince the total submission of one’s will to Allah represents the essence of worship, the basic message of Allah’s divine religion, Islam is the worship of Allah alone and the avoidance of worship directed to any person, place or thing other than Allah.
Well, both Jews and Christians would certainly agree that we are to worship God, and Him alone; and that we should not direct worship to “any person, place, or thing other than” God. This goes without saying. So, Jews and Christians have no problem with that requirement, but share it and accept it. Rather, what we object to is the other claim above – that mere submission “represents the essence of worship”. This is not true. This is a lie; and both Jews and Christians reject this lie. For, the essence of worship is not mere submission, but genuine love. As a certain saintly Catholic bishop once said,
All heresies are true; the only problem with them is that they stress one truth at the expense of other truths.
This is exactly what Islam does when it focuses on submission alone, and stops right there. For, while both the Jewish and the Christian traditions certainly agree that we should submit our wills to God, Jews and Christians do not believe that it should just end there. Rather, we believe that submission should go a step further –that we should submit to God so as to know God and thus become like Him in the context of a personal Covenant. Islam merely calls for a legalistic assent to God’s will and to obey certain outward rules of submission. It does not stress or require the Muslim to have a true, interior change of heart – to not only obey God’s will, but to personally conform to God’s will for the sake of love – to become like God in holiness (by His grace, of course). Both Judaism and Christianity recognize this dimension to the worship of God. Islam does not. In Christianity, for example, we are not merely to obey the will of God. Rather, we are to love God so much that we ourselves get to the point where we want the same thing that God wants – where we are holy like God – that is, a saint. This is what Christ calls us to. He says:
Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
This is only possible through a deep, loving commitment between God and the Christian. A Christian is called to be holy. A Christian is called to avoid sin and do God’s will, not because he fears what will happen to him if he disobeys, but because he loves God so much that it would be unthinkable for him to commit a sin – because he loves God so much that he no longer desires to commit sin or to do anything that is contrary to God’s will. Rather, He is perfectly conformed to Jesus and has become an image of Jesus, adopted into the very same Sonship that Christ Himself enjoys eternally with God the Father – i.e., a loving son, not merely an obedient slave. This is holiness; this is being a saint. Islam, however, has no sense of this. It demands a legalistic submission and nothing more. And this violates the spirit and true essence of both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Christian Gospels, in which God is depicted, not merely as a Judge, but also as an all-loving Father. Obviously, a Father demands a higher standard of righteousness from His son than a Judge demands from a citizen or subject. A Judge merely demands that you obey the law. A Father demands that you be like Him – righteous as He is righteous, and holy as He is holy. But, again, there is no sense of this in Islam. A Muslim is not called to be holy or perfect, but just nominally obedient to some outward tenets; and, aside from this, he can live as he likes and pursue earthly objectives. Judaism and Christianity are not like that. They reveal a higher Truth. Islam does not. Islam is essentially a worldly religion – a cultural theocracy designed to promote the virtues of ancient Semitic culture without demanding true righteousness or saintly perfection via the grace of an all-loving God.
But, the tract goes on…
Neither Judaism nor Christianity worships creation. Rather, what we Christians especially recognize is that God permeates His Creation and that various element of Creation are a reflection of Him. This is especially true in the Incarnation of Christ, in which the eternal and omnipresent God lowered Himself (for our sakes) to take on the nature of a human being. The God Who we worship loves us that much. And so, as St. Paul says in Colossians,
Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.
…and St. Augustine adds,
…and so, in seeing Him, we are caught up in love for the God we cannot see.
This was the purpose of Creation from the Beginning, in which (as even Muslims believe) man was created “in the image and likeness of God”. Creation is supposed to reflect the image of God; and we see this Creation perfected in the Incarnation of Christ, which initiated the process of the New Creation that is here and that is to come.
We agree. But we would also add (as St. James says in James 5:16) that “the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful with God.” This is because, those who are in Christ Jesus share in the love and the Covenant of God, and so God acts in and through them. Again, He permeates His creation, and He calls people (i.e., saints) to be totally conformed to His will, to the point where their prayer is automatically God’s will. This is the mystery that Islam fails to appreciate or understand.
If man prays to a tree and his prayers are answered, it was not the tree that answered his prayers but Allah who allowed the circumstances prayed for to take place.
If man prays to a tree, then he is a fool, since a tree cannot hear him or help him. This is not the same as asking a saint of God to pray for you.One might say, “That is obvious”, however, to tree-worshippers it might not be.
We Christians are not tree worshippers. So, why waste our time with nonsense?
Similarly, prayers to Jesus, Buddha, or Krishna, to Muhammad, are not answered by them but are answered by Allah
In the case of Jesus, you are dead wrong. Jesus IS Allah: John 10:30, John 14:9, etc.
Jesus did not tell his followers to worship him but to worship Allah. As the Qur’aan states: “And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Did you say to men, Worship me and my mother as gods besides Allah?’ He will say: ‘Glory to you I never say what I had not right (to say)'” (Soorah Al-Maa’idah 5:116)
Once again, quoting the Koran is pointless, since we Christians do not believe it is the Word of God, but the 7th Century musings of a mere man. You might as well quote the New York Times or Moby Dick. It’s all the same to us. So, just because the Koran says something doesn’t mean it’s true or that we Christians are going to be convinced by it. Rather, we obey and place our trust in the real Scriptures; and in the real Scriptures, Jesus very clearly says that He alone is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). He also, on several occasions, addresses Himself as “I Am” (John 8:58-59), which, in Jewish culture, is the same as declaring Himself to be God (“I AM” = “Yahweh#q3, the Name of God) which is why the Jews tried to stone Him. And He also clearly accepted the worship of His disciples. For example, in John 20:28, the Apostle Thomas addresses Him as “My Lord and my God”, and Jesus does not rebuke Him, but speaks of His true belief. Muslims, of course, ignore all this because that’s the only way they can claim that the Koran knows what it’s talking about. But, the Gospel of John was written almost 6 centuries before the Koran, and we have fragments of it dating from the 2nd Century. So, which is the more reliable document? An honest and objective person would have to say it’s the Gospel of John – that Christians did indeed always believe that Jesus is God, and that Jesus Himself claimed to be God. There is nothing apart from the Koran (written 6 centuries after the fact and in contradiction to the consistent Christian, and even the Jewish and pagan, testimonies that Jesus claimed to be God) which ever calls this into question.
Furthermore, no true Christian “worships” Mary. Rather, like Muslims, we merely venerate Mary – that is, we recognize that she is greater than us (our Queen), and so we treat her with utmost respect, just as Muslims treat Mohammad. If you think otherwise – if you think that we “worship” Mary or believe that she is some kind of “goddess”, then you are profoundly ignorant of orthodox Christian belief. Indeed, you are also ignorant of Muslim belief and practice, since Islam clearly venerates Mary as the greatest woman who ever lived; and Muslims are famous for showing veneration toward her, even at Christian shrines to Mary! I myself once visited the shrine in Ephesus (modern Turkey – a MUSLIM country), which is called “Mary’s house”, and marks the place where the Blessed Virgin spent her later years with John the Apostles just outside Ephesus. This shrine is not only visited by Christians, but also by Muslims, who, along with the Christians, light candles to show veneration for her and ask Mary to pray for them and their families. So, if we Christians “worship” Mary, then you Muslims do the same. But, again, this is not worship, but veneration. There is a difference.
In this very article, the Muslim author writes “PBUH” (abbreviation for “Peace Be Upon Him”) whenever mentions the name of Mohammad. Why do Muslims do this if Mohammad is only a man? Are they “worshipping” Mohammad when they show this kind of respect for his name? For, they treat the name of Mohammad as if it is a holy name. So, does that make Mohammad God?? Or, is this merely an expression of respect and veneration? If it is merely an expression of respect and veneration (which is what Muslims believe), then they have no right to claim that we Christians “worship” Mary or any other Christian saint when we express respect and veneration for them in our own way.
What’s more, the quote above from Soorah 5:116 shows that Mohammad himself was ignorant about what Christians really believe about Mary, and thus illustrates (yet again) that the Koran is not Divinely inspired. Divinely inspired Scripture doesn’t make mistakes or base what it says on cultural ignorance or mischaracterizations.
Nor did he worship himself when he worshipped but rather he worshipped Allah.
You clearly don’t understand Christian theology or the New Testament. Christ was God come as a man; and, as a man (a Jewish man born under the Mosaic Law) He worshipped His Father in Heaven. He never denied, however, that He and His Father were One. On the contrary, He directly declared it: John 10:30.
“You alone do we worship and from you alone do we seek help.”
Christians believe the same thing about God. You are setting up false and misleading principals because your understanding of Christian belief is very immature and shallow. Nor do you appreciate the reality of Christ’s Incarnation – of God becoming man, and what that means.
Elsewhere, in the final book of revelation, the Qur’aan, Allah also said:
And your Lord says: “Call on Me and I will answer your (prayer).” (Soorah Mu’min 40:60)
It is worth noting that the basic message of Islam is that Allah and His creation are distinctly different entities. Neither is Allah His creation or a part of it, nor is His creation Him or part of Him.
And do you think we Christians believe otherwise? Of course God and His Creation are distinctly different entities. He existed before His Creation. He did not come to be at the time of Creation, but always existed from all eternity – that is, even before He created the principal of time itself. BUT … While all that it true, it is ALSO true (as I addressed above) that God created the universe to reflect His own image and nature, and He made man, the crown of Creation, in His own image and likeness because of this – that is, He desired man to be like Him and to reflect His righteousness and holiness. But, when man fell and separated himself from God, God loved man so much that He Himself became man so as to teach man perfect righteousness and holiness and to bring man into a perfectly intimate Covenant with Himself. It’s in this sense that God joined Himself to His Creation – not because He does not exist independently of His creation (as the pagans believe about their gods), but because Creation itself was made for this intimate purpose. This is another dimension that Islam does not appreciate.
This might seem obvious, but, man’s worship of creation instead of the creator is to a large degree based on ignorance of this concept. As is the opposite teaching – that God has nothing to do with His creation and that creation is not designed to reflect God or to be in intimate unity with Him. Islam implies this error.
You are confusing two different theologies here. Islam was invented to combat the errors of animism and pantheism in pagan Arab society during the 7th Century. These were, of course, errors, and we Christians reject them. The Christian understanding that God permeates His Creation (that He is present in all parts of it) or that Creation was designed to be in intimate unity with God (the Incarnation of Christ making this a visceral reality) is very, VERY different from the errors of animism or pantheism. Christians are not animists. We do not believe that trees, rocks, and animals (or men) are “possessed by” the spirit of God or that we should worship such things because they happen to reflect God and His glory. Likewise, Christians are not pantheists. We do not believe that all elements of creation are God or “bits” of God. Rather, we merely believe that God, as the Author of Creation, is reflected in what He has created (most especially man); and, because of this, God desires perfect unity with His Creation (especially man); and the Incarnation of Christ is the most perfect expression of this unity – the basis for His New and FINAL Covenant, through which He will transform Creation into a new and PERFECT reflection of Himself, as it was in the Beginning and was meant to be, before the rebellion of Satan (Iblis) and the fall of Adam. But, in all of this, a Christian maintains the true belief that God is God and that His creation is His creation – something distinct from Himself. It is only in the Person of Jesus Christ that God and man are united hypostatically. But, to understand what we mean by this and how it relates to the worship of God (and only God), you must set your Islamic presumptions aside and come to appreciate authentic Trinitarian Christian theology and understand that the eternal God, in the Person of God the Son, merely possesses a human nature, but is not Himself a human person. Rather, Christ is only a Divine Person, and it is this Divine Person (Who is One in Being with the Father and the Holy Spirit) Who we worship. Thus, we do not worship creation, but only God.
However, the message of Islam as brought by the prophets of Allah is to worship only Allah and to avoid the worship of his creation either directly or indirectly. In the Qur’aan Allah clearly states:
For We assuredly sent amongst every people a prophet, (with the command) worship me and avoid false gods (Soorah Al-Nahl 16:36)
We Christians agree with this. The problem is that Muslims approach this issue from the point of view of their 7th Century origins in Arabia, where they had to directly condemn true pagan animism and pantheism, whereas Christians approach the issue from over 2,000 years of theological development from the time of Abraham until the Incarnation of Christ. In Old Testament times, God condemned the worship (or even use) of idols (i.e., “graven images”) because He had to win the Israelites over from paganism and make it clear that He was not part of creation, but the Author of all Creation, and so no earthly image could “image” God. This mirrors the 7th Century experience of the first Muslims who fought against paganism in Arabia. But, once God’s distinctness from Creation was established among the Jews, the chosen people were then able to appreciate WHY God created things (and most especially man) in His own image to begin with. And this was to establish a perfect intimacy with His Creation, most especially man, who is the steward of all Creation. Thus, once we appreciate that God is something distinct from Creation, we can then appreciate His intimate unity with Creation, which takes place in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Muslims consistently mischaracterize the Christian belief because they do not understand where we are coming from, or appreciate that our context happens to be different from theirs. Both of us clearly believe that God is distinct from creation, and that we are to worship God alone, and not creation. This goes without saying. The problem comes into being when Muslims like yourself assume (wrongly …and ignorantly) that we Christians are doing what the pagans used to do, or that we think that God is part of creation, rather appreciating that God has established an intimate unity with His Creation.
When the idol worshipper is questioned as to why he or she bows down to idols created by men, the invariable reply is that they are not actually worshipping the stone image, but Allah who is present within it. They claim that the stone idol is only a focal point for Allah! One who has accepted the concept of the presence of God’s being within His creation in any way will be obliged to accept this argument of idolatry. Whereas, one who understands the basic message of Islam and its implications would never concede to idolatry no matter how it is rationalized.
We Christians do not “rationalize” idolatry. And, once again, you irresponsibly confuse two very different theologies, and depict the Christian use of icons as if it’s the same as the animism of the ancient Arabic pagans. This is profound ignorance on your part. First of all, Christians do not believe that God is “within” their statues or paintings. This was the pagan belief – the animist belief, as described above. If a Catholic kneels to a statue of Jesus, He does not believe that the spirit of Jesus dwells inside the statue. Rather, the image is merely a reminder of Jesus, just like a photograph of a beloved relative that someone might hang on their living room wall. In this sense, the statue is very much a focal point, as is the mihrab in an Islamic mosque, which indicates that location of Mecca, to which Muslims must face while praying. For those who know their history, this mihrab (a niche or depression in the wall) was adopted by Muslims from Christian tradition, which took it from the old pagan tradition of the Greeks and Romans. For, in pagan Greek and Roman temples, the statues of their gods were kept in such niches or apses, and the apse came to be a sign of Divinity. Later, during the Roman Empire, the Emperor’s throne was placed in the apse of a basilica (Roman law court) to indicate that the Emperor was supposedly divine; and when Christians began to make church buildings, they adopted the architectural tradition of the Roman basilica (law court building) rather than the plan of pagan temples (to make it clear that Christians were not pagans). But, because of the tradition, they would place their altars (with the Tabernacles) in the apse to indicate that this was the place of God – that the Divine Presence in the Eucharist dwelled there; and in the Byzantine tradition, this apse had a large icon painted on it – usually an image of Christ or the Blessed Virgin, and this served as a “focal point” while the people were praying in the Liturgy (the Mass). But, when the Muslims conquered Christian cities in the Byzantine Empire, they stole and transformed these churches into mosques; and, since the altar of the Christian church (located in the apse) faced East, the Muslims used this same apse or niche (now decorated and called the mihrab) as THEIR focal point when praying to God. So, properly and historically understood, you are no different than us. You do the same thing as us. For you too have a focal point when you pray. And, even if you do not pray in a mosque, you are still told to face East – to face Mecca and the Kaaba. Why so? Is Mecca “God”? Is the Kaaba Divine? Are you committing idolatry when you face a city or building (earthly things) and use them as your focal point when you pray??? If not, then neither are we Christians committing idolatry when we focus on statues or paintings that merely remind us of Christ and the saints. Indeed, when I watch television and see Islamic funerals in Palestine for young men who are killed by the Israelis, they invariably show members of the family carrying large photographs of the dead men which they hold up for all to see. And Muslims do this in Palestine, in Iraq, in Iran, and elsewhere. In Iran, they typically also hold up large images and painting of their Ayatollah. So, are these “graven images” and idols? If not, why not?
Those who have claimed divinity for themselves down through the ages have often based their claims on the mistaken belief that Allah is present in man.
This is animism. We Christians do not believe this. In fact, for the first 300 years of our history, untold thousands of Christians died because we would not believe this – because we would not accept that Divine power resided within the pagan Roman Emperor. So, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.
They merely had to assert that although Allah, according to their false beliefs, is in all of us, He is more present in them than in the rest of us. Hence, they claim, we should submit our will to them and worship them as they are either God in person or God concentrated within the person.
I am not aware of one Muslim who ever died rather than accept this false idea. But, I know of thousands of Christians who died rather than accept this false idea during the pagan Roman persecutions of the Church. Again, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Similarly, those who have asserted the godhood of others after their passing have found fertile ground among those who accept the false belief of God’s presence in man. One who has grasped the basic message of Islam and its implications could never agree to worship another human being under any circumstances.
We Christians do not worship another human person. Rather, we worship a Divine person Who happens to have taken on a human nature. Big difference.
God’s religion in essence is a clear call to the worship of the Creator and the rejection of creation-worship in any form. This is the meaning of the motto of Islam: “Laa Elaaha Illallaah” (There is no god but Allah).
This motto was created in pagan Arabia to address the beliefs of most Arabs at the time, who believed in both Allah (the God of Abraham) and in many other (pagan) gods. It does not apply or properly address authentic Christian theology. Rather, Muslims ignorantly group Christians in with the pagans in this regard. They make a grave mistake in going this. For, we Christians recognize no god but God, and we do not worship any element of creation. You fail to grasp this because you are ignorant and narrow.
Its repetition automatically brings one within the fold of Islam and sincere belief in it guarantees one Paradise.
Does it? Well, then I must repeat my question: Why does Islam also demand that one confess that “Mohammad is God’s prophet”? If declaring that there is “No god but God” is all that it takes to “bring one within the fold of Islam” and “guarantee Paradise”, then you should believe that Jews and Christians are already Muslims, since we do confess that there is no god but God. Yet, Islam isn’t satisfied with that, is it? It is not enough to submit to God; one must also submit to the authority of Mohammad. Also, if just believing that God is the only God is enough to “guarantee Paradise”, why are so many young Muslims so interested to flying airplanes into buildings? One would think that just believing in the Oneness of God would be enough to acquire those seventy-two black-eyed virgins. So, is that really all it takes, or is something more required? I, as a Catholic Christian, believe that there is no god but God. Does this guarantee me Paradise and seventy-two virgins in the afterlife? And, if not, why not?
Thus, the final Prophet of Islam is reported to have said,
Anyone who says: There is no god but Allah and dies holding that (belief) will enter paradise. (Reported by Abu Dharr and collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)
Great! I look forward to having my own harem in Heaven. But, is that really all it takes?
It consists in the submission of Allah as one God, yielding to Him by obeying His commandments, and the denial of polytheism and polytheists.
Aren’t you forgetting something? What about the second part of the Islamic confession: “…and Mohammad is His prophet.”? Can someone skip that part and still attain Paradise? Indeed, can a Muslim do away with the praying 5 times a day, and the alms giving, and the trip to Mecca (if possible), etc. and still attain paradise by just being a monotheist? I don’t think so, my friend. I think that you are misrepresenting authentic Islamic belief. If you’re not, then all Jews and Christians are already Muslims, and you had no right to take our lands and our children away as you did between the 7th Century and the 16th Century.
The tract then seeks to address so-called “false religion”, saying…
THE MESSAGE OF FALSE RELIGIONThere are so many sects, cults, religions, philosophies, and movements in the world, all of which claim to be the right way or the only true path to Allah. How can one determine which one is correct or if, in fact, all are correct? The method by which the answer can be found is to clear away the superficial differences in the teachings of the various claimants to the ultimate truth, and identify the central object of worship to which they call, directly or indirectly. False religions all have in common one basic concept with regards to Allah. They either claim that all men are gods or that specific men were Allah or that nature is Allah or that Allah is a figment of man’s imagination.
Well, the Christian Faith (properly understood) doesn’t claim any of these things. Rather, only the Islamic mischaracterization of authentic Christianity does. We Christians do not claim that a specific man was God. Rather, we claim that the eternal God became man and was (and is) a specific man. There is a difference.
Thus, it may be stated that the basic message of false religion is that Allah may be worshipped in the form of His creation.
Why so?? This is not a false claim at all. God may be worshipped in the form of His Creation IF He Himself decided to take the form of His creation, which He did. This DOES NOT mean, however, that God is no longer distinct from His creation or that He is defined by, or limited to, His creation. The only way that someone might conclude that is if they confuse the Incarnation of Christ with animism. But, as I showed before, they are not the same thing. The real problem here is that Islam places limits on God. For Muslims, it is not possible for God to become a man for the sake of His love for us. Muslims believe in a limited God. Christians believe in an omnipotent God Who can become a man without ceasing to be God. Our concept of God is far greater and more mature than yours.
False religion invites man to the worship of creation by calling the creation or some aspect of it God.
Christians do not worship creation, and we do not call any aspect of creation “God”. Rather, we believe that God took on the nature of a man – that is, He took created nature unto Himself. But, this does not mean that He is a creation or has, in Himself (in His own Personhood) become a creation. Far from it. We believe that His Personhood remains what it always was from all eternity – Divine. Christ is an eternal and Divine Person; and it is this eternal and Divine Person that we worship. We do not worship a man. We worship God as man. There is a difference.
For example, prophet Jesus invited his followers to worship Allah but those who claim to be his followers today call people to worship Jesus, claiming that he was Allah!
Jesus Himself proclaimed that He is Allah. I addressed this before and I provided Scripture citations. You Muslims have no justifiable reason for rejecting these Scripture verses. You only do it because they do not agree with the 7th Century content of the Koran, which contradicts all the historically documented evidence that came before it in regard to Who Jesus claimed to be and what people universally believed about Him.
Buddha was a reformer who introduced a number of humanistic principles to the religion of India. He did not claim to be God nor did he suggest to his followers that he be an object of worship. Yet, today most Buddhists who are to be found outside of India have taken him to be God and prostrate to idols made in their perception of his likeness.
Wrong. Buddhists do not believe that Buddha is God. You are very ignorant to say otherwise. What Buddhists believe about the Buddha is that he was something like the Christian idea of a saint. For Buddhists, the Buddha was a wise and enlightened man who attained the state of total happiness called “Nirvana”, and now (so Buddhists believe) he helps others who seek to attain this state. Those who “pray” to him do so, not in the sense of worship, but in the sense that a Catholic Christian will pray to a saint in Heaven to help the Christian on earth through the saint’s personal intercession. This is not worship, but merely asking another human being to pray for you, or to help you. At the very best, it is a form of veneration; and veneration is not worship. Veneration is merely acknowledging that another person is greater than you and showing great respect for them. Muslims treated kings and Caliphs this way all the time. They also treat Mohammad this way.
Likewise, the statues and paintings of Buddha used by Buddhists are not idols. Buddhists do not believe that Buddha ‘dwells inside them’ or that these things should be worshipped. Rather, like Christian icons, they are reminders and sometimes focal points.
By using the principle of identifying the object of worship, false religion becomes very obvious and the contrived nature of their origin clear.
There is nothing “clear” here at all, since you are distorting objective reality and mischaracterizing the authentic beliefs of Christians and Buddhists in order to fit your very narrow mentality. This is a bigoted approach. It is not mature or reasonable. But, then again, who ever said that Islam is a “reasonable” faith?
As God said in the Qur’aan:
That which you worship besides Him are only names you and your forefathers have invented for which Allah has sent down no authority: The command belongs only to Allah: He has commanded that you only worship Him; that is the right religion, but most men do not understand. (Soorah Yoosuf 12:40)
Well, obviously it is the Muslims who do not understand what Christians and Buddhists really believe. I don’t know about you, but the God that I worship is a God of Truth, and He expects us to be truthful in our discernment of reality, not to mischaracterize the beliefs of others in order to promote our own agendas. But, this is exactly what you are doing here. As for the quote from the Koran above, we Christians do not worship anyone or anything besides God. The reason that you think that we do is because you are profoundly ignorant of authentic Christian theology and you simply misunderstand of approach to worshipping God. You also, of course, deny the reality of Christ’s Incarnation, which is a serious problem, since this denies God and what God has truly done for the sake of His love for me and for you. The quote above also speaks of the authority of God. However, we Christians do not recognize that God’s authority comes through Mohammad or the Koran; and, once again, we do not recognize this because Mohammad and the Koran contradict the ancient, consistent, and well-document witness of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Christian New Testament. God does not contradict Himself.
It may be argued that all religions teach good things so why should it matter which one we follow. The reply is that all false religions teach the greatest evil, the worship of creation.
Is that truly the “greatest evil”? I can think of many worse things. How about killing 3,000 people, including innocent women and children, by flying a couple airplanes into the World Trade Center? That’s pretty “evil” if you ask me. But, be that as it may, we Christians agree that worshipping creation or any element of creation is sinful and wrong. And so, we do not worship creation or any element of creation. The fact that you thing we do illustrates your great ignorance and your incredible narrow mentality.
Creation-worship is the greatest sin that man can commit because it contradicts the very purpose of his creation. Man was created to worship Allah alone as Allah has explicitly stated in the Qur’aan:
I have only created Jinns and men, that they may worship me. (Soorah Zaareeyaat 51:56)
Here, again, we see the cold and legalistic nature of Islam, for, to Muslims, “worship” merely implies submission. But, to a Christian, it means love and true adoration of God. Man (like the angels) was indeed created to worship God. But, the reason for this is because God desires us to know Him and love Him as deeply as possible, and our worship of Him is inspired and motivated by this knowledge and love, not by a mere imposed and legalistic piety, as in Islam. We praise God because we love Him, not because we fear Him or want to get things from Him. This is the difference.
Consequently, the worship of creation, which is the essence of idolatry, is the only unforgiveable sin.
Is it? Well, that’s funny, since a good 99% of all the original Muslims used to be pagan polytheists who worshipped idols. So, if the sin of worshipping elements of creation is “unforgivable”, then all those original Muslims (Mohammad included perhaps?) should be damned to hell and not forgiven. So, are you sure you want to say that?
One who dies in this state of idolatry has sealed his fate in the next life. This is not an opinion, but a revealed fact stated by Allah in his final revelation to man:
Verily Allah will not forgive the joining of partners with Him, but He may forgive (sins) less than that for whomsoever He wishes (SoorahAn-Nisaa 4:48 and 116)
Not to make too much out of it, but what this soorah is specifically referring to is the idea that some Arabs claimed that Allah had spiritual wives (i.e., goddesses) and concubines, which was an aspect of Arab pagan mythology. Islam denied this idea, and rightly so. But, the soorah is not saying the God will not forgive a well-meaning pagan or Hindu who is simply ignorant of the fact that worshipping idols is wrong. God is merciful to such people and does not hold them to the same standard that he does Jews, and Christians, and Muslims, who are forbidden to do such things. As Jesus says in the Gospel:
From those who are given much, much will be expected.
But, the tract goes on…
THE UNIVERSALITY OF ISLAMSince the consequences of false religion are so grave, the true religion of Allah must be universally understandable and attainable, not confined to any people, place or time.
Oh, we Catholic Christians could not agree more. For, as anyone must admit, our Faith is FAR more universal than Islam or any other religion. The Catholic Church contains “every nation, race, people and tongue” on this planet, just as Scripture says would be the case (Revelaiton 7:9). Neither Islam nor any other religion can make this claim.
There cannot be conditions like baptism, belief in a man, as a saviour etc., for a believer to enter paradise.
Says who? And by what authority? Need I also point out that, once again, you contradict yourself and the true tenets of Islam. For, in order to be a Muslim, one must not only admit the Oneness of God, but one must also confess “…and Mohammad is His prophet.” What is this if not “belief in a man”? Why must I confess that Mohammad has authority in order to enter Paradise? Yet, you Muslims demand exactly that.
Within the central principle of Islam and in its definition, (the surrender of one’s will to God) lies the roots of Islam’s universality.
You confuse universality with simplicity, or lack of any real obligation. Sure, it’s pretty easy to be a Muslim. But, God deserves more than mere assent. He deserves our total love and devotion, and to do this, one must be prepared to suffer for His Name against the forces of evil in this world. Islam has no such requirement unlike Christianity, in which the Christian is literally Baptized into the death of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:11-12).
Whenever man comes to the realization that Allah is one and distinct from His creation, and submits himself to Allah, he becomes a Muslim in body and spirit and is eligible for paradise.
So, He doesn’t have to love Allah, or his fellow man. He only has to accept a legalistic principal. That’s not very deep or profound if you ask me. Nor is it very realistic or in conformity with the true nature of God, as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. As I said before, all heresies stress one truth at the expense of other truths. Sure, one should recognize that God is distinct from His creation. This is a truth. But, it is not the only truth, and it does not represent the be-all-end-all of God’s revelation, as this Muslim author wishes to claim.
Thus, anyone at anytime in the most remote region of the world can become a Muslim, a follower of God’s religion, Islam, by merely rejecting the worship of creation and by turning to Allah (God) alone.
And anyone, at any time, in the most remote region of the world can become a Christian by believing in Jesus Christ and calling upon His Name – the only Name through which anyone can be saved.
It should be noted however, that the recognition of and submission to Allah requires that one chooses between right and wrong and such a choice implies accountability. Man will be held responsible for his choices, and, as such, he should try his utmost to do good and avoid evil.
Ah! So, now you tell us. But, before you said that merely recognizing that God is One and distinct from His creation is a “guarantee” of Paradise. I quote the words of your prophet which you presented above: “Anyone who says: There is no god but Allah and dies holding that (belief) will enter paradise.” So, which is it? Can a man lead a wicked and sinful life, but still go to Paradise and get himself seventy-two “heavenly hotties” just as long as he dies believing in monotheism? That’s what your prophet apparently claimed. So, is that what Islam believes? Face it, my friend, you can’t have it both ways. Merely believing that God is One is not enough to save you from hell. Even Iblis (Satan) and the fallen angels (jinn) believe that God is One, but that doesn’t help them. As our Scriptures say, “Even the demons believe and tremble.” But, there is a BIG difference between believing that God is the one and only God and TREATING God as the One and only God – that is, treating Him as He deserves to be treated by loving Him “with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul, and your whole strength”, as the Hebrew Old Testament and the Christian Gospel say that we must. Once again, we are called to known God and to love Him (to enter into His own holy and righteous nature by participation in an intimate, personal Covenant with Him), not merely to “submit” to Him in an empty and legalistic way. Islam fails to appreciative this Truth, and that is why Islam is a false, man-made religion.
The ultimate good being the worship of Allah alone and the ultimate evil being the worship of His creation along with or instead of Allah.
I, again, must dispute the fact that worshipping creation is “the ultimate evil”. That has not been established as a fact, and merely pointing to what the Koran says is not enough for us Christians, since we do not believe that the Koran is true Scripture. Likewise, many good people (e.g. Hindus, pagans, etc.) worship elements of creation in ignorance, not because they intentionally intend to sin against the One and only God. Clearly, Allah the All-Merciful will not damn these people to hell for not knowing any better and being ignorant. Ignorance is not evil. Doing that which is wrong when you know what the right thing to do is – this is evil. This is sin. Sin requires the knowledge of what is right and wrong. For example, any reasonable Muslim knows that flying airplanes into buildings and killing innocent women and children is wrong and evil. It is not the will of God to kill the innocent. Yet, there are countless Muslims throughout the world who think those who did this are heroes and “martyrs”. You would do well to preach to these deluded people and win them over to “true religion” first before trying to convince us that we should be Muslims. Look to your own house. As Jesus says in the Gospel:
Remove the plank [of wood] from your own eye first, then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.
When Muslims act with righteousness and avoid real evil, then they can preach to us Christians about it. Not before.
This fact is expressed in the final revelation as follows:
Verily those who believe, those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), the Christians and the Sabians any who believe in Allah and the last day, and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; They will not be overcome by fear nor grief. (Soorah Al-Baqarah 2:62)
Great! So, what’s the problem then? Why don’t you just leave us Christians and Jews alone to worship God in our own way? Why did you kill thousands of us and take our counties away from us between the 7th and the 16th Centuries? Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Tunsia, Morocco… all of these used to be Christian countries. Yet, they were attacked by Muslims who, in the Name of Allah, took everything away from the Christians, and sold their children into slavery. What gave you the right to do this (to attack Christians and Jews who never did anything to you) IF Christians and Jews already believed in Allah and were righteous within their own traditions? This is more evidence of the fact that the Koran is not inspired Scripture. Inspired Scripture does not contradict itself.
But, the Koran goes on…
If only they had stood by the law, the Gospel, and all the revalation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course; but many of them follow a course that is evil. (Soorah Al-Maa’idah 5:66)
And is this not true of Muslims as well??? Are there not many Muslims (the terrorists, for example, who kill innocent women and children) who “follow a course that is evil”? Again, you should look to your own house first before trying to convert us Christians. Indeed, notice once again how the Koran contradicts itself. First, it accuses Christians of worshipping creation and essentially calls this “the greatest evil” – a sin that can NEVER be forgiven. But then it says that some Christians (that is, some supposed “worshippers of creation”) are “righteous” and “on the right course”, and will attain a “reward” from Allah on the Last Day So, which is it? The Koran cannot have it both ways. If worshipping Jesus is “the greatest evil”, then NO CHRISTIAN can be “on the right course” or “righteous” or deserving of any “reward”. The Koran is not consistent in its doctrine. It contradicts itself. This proves that it is not inspired Scripture.
The tract then goes on to speak of “recognition”…
RECOGNITION OF ALLAHThe recognition which arises here is, “How can all people be expected to believe in Allah given their varying backgrounds, societies and cultures?” For people to be responsible for worshipping Allah they all have to have access to knowledge of Allah. The final revelation teaches that all mankind have the recognition of Allah imprinted in their souls, a part of their very nature with which they are created.
Christianity also believes the basic truth of this. As St. Augustine wrote,
You made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
But, we do not confuse this with a conscious recognition of God or a conscious knowledge of what is true faith and what is not. People need to be taught this. They are not held responsible for that which they do not know. Genuine ignorance is not evil or a sin. God does not punish people for genuine ignorance. He punishes them for willing and conscious disobedience. There is a difference.
In Soorah Al-A’raaf, verses 172-173; Allah explained that when He created Adam, He caused all of Adam’s descendants to come into existence and took a pledge from them saying, Am I not your Lord? To which they replied, “Yes, we testify to it.” Allah then explained why He had all mankind bear witness that he is their creator and only true God worthy of worship. He said, “That was in case you (mankind) should say on the day of Ressurrection, ‘Verily we were unaware of all this.’ That is to say, we had no idea that You Allah, were our God. No one told us that we were only supposed to worship You alone. Allah went on to explain that it was also in case you should say, “Certainly it was our ancestors who made partners (with Allah) and we are only their descendants; will You then destroy us for what those liars did?” Thus, every child is born with a natural belief in Allah and an inborn inclination to worship Him alone called in Arabic the “Fitrah”.
This is a shameful and ignorant distortion of theology – even authentic Muslim theology. Mankind’s inherent longing for God (what Islam calls “fitrah” and which Christians and Jews also recognize) is not the same thing as a conscious knowledge of what is right and wrong, which makes someone responsible for the orthodox tenets of their religion. The Soorah quoted above is merely a poetic illustration of the fact that all people are created with a certain inner knowledge and hunger for God and His righteousness. It is not speaking about literal responsibility or claming that all people really “know” that they should be Muslims. The Koran is clearly not saying that there is no such thing as ignorance or that no one needs to be educated in “true religion”. If this is what Muslims believed, then they would never have bothered to write the Koran or study it. Why bother to learn about Islam if you already know it inherently? So, you are mixing “apples” and “oranges” here; and dangerously so. This is because what you are really saying is that all non-Muslims are guilty of sin because they “really know that they are supposed to be Muslims, but are rebelling against this knowledge” – that they are responsible, and sinfully negligent of their responsibility. While such a view may be very convenient for a fundamentalist zealot, any rational person (whether Muslim or not) knows better. Needless to say, the mentality displayed above is EXACTLY what is used to “justify” Islamic fascism and the godless acts of terrorists. It implies that non-Muslims “have it coming” – that they already stand guilty before God because they supposedly “know they should be Muslims but refused to submit.” Thus, it is okay to kill innocent women and children, since they are not really innocent, but in open rebellion against Allah. Needless to say, this is both a very dangerous and a very stupid approach to reality and to the righteousness of God.
If the child were left alone, he would worship Allah in his own way, but all children are affected by those things around them, seen or unseen.
This, again, contradicts both Muslim and Christian theology, which teaches that all mankind is ‘touched by Satan’ and that we come into this world with what Christians call “Original Sin”. Islam clearly teaches (as does the Catholic Church) that the only two people who were ever born without this flaw were Jesus and His mother. That’s one doctrine that Islam gets right; but it doesn’t understand why this was so.
But, when it comes to all the rest of us, if a child is left alone, it will indeed hunger for Allah (for only Allah can satisfy us – i.e., the fatrah), but it will not worship him. Rather, it will follow the error of Iblis (Satan) and worship itself – that is, the child will give into his own ego and live a sinful life. Both Christians and Muslims believe this. Yet, you are apparently ignorant of Muslim theology as well.
The Prophet (PBUH) reported that Allah said, “I created my servants in the right religion but devils made them go astray.”
This refers to the creation of Adam and Eve, and the original (sinless) state of humanity before the fall. Again, you are sloppy and inconsistent even when it comes to Muslim theology. You should learn your own faith first before preaching against ours.
The Prophet (PBUH) also said,
Each child is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated? (Collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)
I see I must again educate you in Muslim theology, as well as Christian theology (for Christianity and Islam agree on this point). The “fitrah” is one’s interior and intrinsic hunger for God. And, yes, all human beings are created with this because, as the Book of Genesis says, man is created “in the image and likeness of God”, and only God can satisfy man because of this. I again quote Augustine:
You made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.
But the fact that man is created with this “fitrah” does not mean that he is undamaged or untouched by evil and sin. When Adam sinned and was expelled from the Garden, this intrinsically damaged all of his descendants, who are born under the curse of Adam and suffer from the flaw that we Christians call “Original Sin” – that is, a lack of sanctifying grace (holiness) – a certain isolation from Allah. The purpose of religion is to restore that which has been lost to man – to bring him back into conformity and a loving Covenant with God. So, when Mohammad speaks of all children being born in the state of fitrah, he does not mean that children are born free from evil or the inclination toward evil (what we Christians call Original Sin), but merely that they are born with a hunger for God along with the problem of Original Sin – that is, along with a certain isolation from God. This is clearly a part of Islamic theology, just as it is a part of Christian theology. So, again, you should learn the true tenets of your own faith before you set out to correct us.
Also, in the quote above, Mohammad refers to “mutilation” – that is, circumcision. He is referring to the fact that no child is born a Jew, but must be circumcised by his parents after being born. Ah! But Muslims also practice circumcision, and a good Muslim is supposed to be circumcised. This alone shows that a child is not naturally born as a Muslim, but must enter into a covenant via a covenantal sign and other such things that are imposed on him by his parents. No child, for example, is born knowing who Mohammad is. But, one cannot be a true Muslim unless one declares “…and Mohammad is His prophet.” So, once again, your claims are very inconsistent. You claim that all people were made Muslims at the time of creation when the descendants of Adam were asked to pledge themselves to Allah (outside of time and space). Okay. But, if this is so – if this is what being a “Muslim” really is, then you should not demand that one profess “…and Mohammad is His prophet” in order to be a Muslim, since Mohammad himself was not a prophet at the beginning (in the time of Adam), but (supposedly) became a prophet of God in the 7th Century. Thus, Mohammad is not intrinsic to being a Muslim, and so one should not have to declare “…and Mohammad is His prophet” to become a Muslim. But, you still do demand this. Why? And how can you possibly reconcile such a demand with what you are expressing above? The two ideas simply do not fit together. While all children are indeed born with a certain “knowledge” of God (fitrah), they are not born with a knowledge of Mohammad – a mere man. Thus, saying “…and Mohammad is His prophet” should not be a criterion for being a Muslim. Yet, according to Islam, it is. I call that a contradiction.
So, just as the child submits to the physical laws which Allah has put in nature, his soul also submits naturally to the fact that Allah is his Lord and Creator. But, his parents try to make him follow their own way and the child is not strong enough in the early stages of his life to resist or oppose the will of his parents.
And Muslim parents don’t do this too?? Your claim is simply ridiculous. Islam is imposed on people by their parents just as much as any other religion is. Indeed, Islam has also traditionally been forced on people, whether by violent aggression or by social coercion, since the earliest days of its history. So, give me a break!
The religion which the child follows at this stage is one of custom and upbringing and Allah does not hold him to account or punish him for this religion.
Ha! Am I the only one who sees the major contradiction here? Above, the claim was that all people were made Muslims by God at the beginning of time, and are directly responsible for it – that they have no excuse if they do not live as Muslims. Allow me to quote what the Muslim author said (emphasis mine):
Allah then explained why He had all mankind bear witness that he is their creator and only true God worthy of worship. He said, “That was in case you (mankind) should say on the day of Ressurrection, ‘Verily we were unaware of all this.'”. That is to say, we had no idea that You Allah, were our God. No one told us that we were only supposed to worship You alone. Allah went on to explain that it was also in case you should say, “Certainly it was our ancestors who made partners (with Allah) and we are only their descendants; will You then destroy us for what those liars did?”
Yet, NOW he states the opposite…that God does not hold people accountable for the so-called “errors” that were handed down to them by their parents and forefathers. I’m sorry, but both cannot be true. Our Muslim author cannot have it both ways.
Throughout people’s lives from childhood until the time they die, signs are shown to them in all regions of the earth and their own souls, until it becomes clear that there is only one true God (Allah).
Why is this necessary if the “fitrah” is all that is needed? If we were made Muslims at the beginning of time and responsible for their inner knowledge and this pledge that we all supposedly made during the time of Adam?? Again, our author’s theology is very sloppy and inconsistent.
If the people are honest with themselves, reject their false gods and seek Allah, the way will be made easy for them but if they continually reject Allah’s signs and continue to worship creation, the more difficult it will be for them to escape.
So, are they responsible and guilty or not? You speak of “difficulty” and of “signs” that need to be shown to people. Why are they given “signs” if they already know (and have always known) what the Truth is and are already responsible for it? Why speak of “difficulty” when the truth is already supposedly known to them intrinsically? Again, this is incredibly sloppy and poorly reasoned theology. It is quite childish, actually.
For example, in the South Eastern region of the Amazon jungle in Brazil, South America, a primitive tribe erected a new hut to house their main idol Skwatch, representing the supreme God of all creation. The following day a young man entered the hut to pay homage to god, and while he was in protration to what he had been taught was his Creator and Sustainer, a mangy old flea-ridden dog walked into the hut. The young man looked up in time to see the dog lift its hind leg and pass urine on the idol. Outraged, the youth chased the dog out of the temple, but when his rage died down he realized that the idol could not be the Lord of the universe. Allah must be elsewhere. He now had a choice to act on his knowledge and seek Allah, or to dishonestly go along with the false beliefs of his tribe. As strange as it may seem, that was a sign from Allah for that young man. It contained within it divine guidance that what he was worshipping was false.
First of all, this is a childish and apocryphal story with little bearing on reality. But, even if it were a true story, so what? If a crazy Christian terrorist were to strap a nuclear bomb onto himself, travel to Mecca, and blow up the Kaaba, would that imply that Allah is not a real God? For, if Mecca no longer existed, one could not obey one of the tenets of Islam of praying toward Mecca five times a day. So, would something like this prove that Allah is not real? My point is that anything consecrated to God (whether in truth or in some false religion) can be desecrated. If I dishonored the Kaaba or an image of Mohammad, this would infuriate a great many Muslims who would then try to kill me. But, this would not prove that Islam is untrue. The same is true of this story when the dog urinated on the false idol. It does not mean that this idol did not represent a god or prove that some pagan god was not “dwelling within” the idol. Rather, all it proves is that the dog was able to urinate on it. Who knows, maybe the pagan god likes to be urinated on.
Prophets were sent, so as earlier mentioned, to every nation and tribe to support man’s natural belief in Allah and man’s inborn inclination to worship Him as well as to reinforce the divine truth in the daily signs reveled by Allah. Although, in most cases, much of the prophets’ teachings became distorted, portions remained which point out right and wrong.
I see. And how do you know that Islam itself is not an example of distorted teachings? The fact that it contradicts both earlier Scriptures, and even contradicts itself, should at least lead you to consider that.
For example, the ten commandments of the Torah, their confirmation in the Gospels and the existence of laws against murder, stealing and adultery in most societies…
As I said before, Muslims pick and choose which parts of the Old and New Testaments they will accept and which parts they will reject, and they do this based on an irrational and silly premise. Their premise is that the Koran must be true because Mohammad said that it is true. And thus, if anything contradicts the Koran, then it must be wrong. Needless to say, this is not a reasonable approach to reality, since it does not even consider the possibility that the Koran itself may be wrong not even when the Koran clearly contradicts the ancient, consisted, and incredibly well-documented tenets of Judaism and Christianity, to say nothing of the fact that the Koran contradicts itself, as I have illustrated quite clearly above.
Consequently, every soul will be held to account for its belief in Allah and its acceptance of the religion of Islam; the total submission to the will of Allah.
Uh-huh. It would be nice, however, if you were able to make up your mind as to what this really means. As I said, your theology is very sloppy and inconsistent.
The Catholic Legate
February 22, 2008