To facilitate Islam's advance in the Judeo-Christian West, it is often deceptively referred to as an Abrahamic religion based on the claim that these religions have "shared values". But how can Islam have "shared values" with Judaism and Christianity, when its doctrines are so hateful toward those religions, and when Jews and Christians suffer terrible persecution and discrimination in the Muslim world???
[Note: Islam Watch, as a nontheistic/atheistic forum, does not recognize any conception of God. This article is published here as it discusses the Islamic conception of God and its foundation, but not to endorse any conception of God, Islamic or otherwise, discussed in it.]
Unless one believes, as a matter of faith, that Muhammad’s actions constituted a divine mission to deliver God’s message to the human race, then it is simply too plain for argument that Islam is best understood as nothing more than a reflection of Muhammad’s alter-ego, and that Allah and Muhammad are one and the same. Accordingly, the Islamic faith should never be described as an Abrahamic religion as such—a description is used to facilitate its appeal to Jews and Christians. Anything that assists Muslims in their dawah (proselytizing) obligations is detrimental to the interests of all non-Muslims.
Islam is often referred to as an Abrahamic religion to Western audience as an attempt to promote interfaith harmony and the spread Islam via persuasion and/or a deceptive attempt to ease mainly Judeo-Christian Westerners' apprehension about Islam. Regardless of the motive, referring to Islam as an Abrahamic faith lends it, at least in some circles, certain credibility that it does not deserve.
If one defines "Abrahamic religion" as any religion originating from one of Abraham's descendants and further assumes Muhammad to be descended from Abraham though Ishmael, then one may call Islam an Abrahamic religion.
However, Wikipedia defines "Judaism, Christianity and Islam" as Abrahamic religions, because they “share a common origin and values”. And most people call Islam an Abrahamic religion in the sense of this Wikipedia definition. But, a closer examination of three faiths excludes Islam from the same league.
As such, it is an egregious error to label Islam as an Abrahamic religion as its material values are so far removed from, indeed hostile and diametrically opposed to, both Judaism and Christianity, to the extent that it is unfair and cruel to Jews and Christians to claim that the three religions ‘share the same values’. Islam is simply too far removed from Judaism and Christian in its perception of the nature of God to ultimately share any material values with the latter.
Moreover, throughout the world, Jews and Christians (other non-Muslims too) suffer terrible persecution in most countries wherein Islam predominates and is patently inspired by Islamic doctrine. Therefore, it is contradictory to claim that Islam, despite sharing common beliefs with Judaism and Christianity, persecutes latter’s followers. It is also, in essence, a cruel injustice to Christians and Jews, and adds to their pain, to say that a religion with their shared values is causing terrible sufferings to them.
While it is true that all three religions have some common beliefs and that Islam borrowed, albeit imperfectly, stories from both Judaism and Christianity, and copied many ceremonial aspects of Judaism – some with and some without modification – that hardly means that all three religions share the same values. One only need to do a cursory review of the Islamic doctrine and look at the prevalence of anti-Jewish and anti-Christian bigotry amongst Muslims throughout the Islamic world to understand that Islam shares very few, if any, material values with Judaism and Christianity. However, a comparative analysis of the religions is beyond the scope of this essay. Instead, my goal is to establish that Islam is nothing more than a reflection of Muhammad’s alter-ego, and that Allah and Muhammad are one and the same. By alter-ego, I mean to convey that Islam and Allah are nothing more than secret names or code-words for Muhammad’s ideology, commands and Muhammad himself. Consequently, instead of adding ‘peace be upon him’ when Muhammad’s name is written or spoken, it would be far more accurate to add ‘doing business as Allah’ or ‘d.b.a. Allah’.
Even Muslims have tacitly admitted the truth of my observations about Muhammad. In ‘The Future of Islam’, Wilfred Scawen Blunt accurately points out that Islam is not amenable to change, because even ‘students of the Sheriat (Sharia Law) have not inaptly compared the Koranic law to a dead man’s hand, rigid and cold, and only to be loosened when the hand has been cut away.’
Such an observation, given that Sharia Law is based on the Quran and hadiths both of which are either the work of Muhammad or based upon his life and statements, reveals the nature of the Islamic faith as inextricably entwined with the life and beliefs of Muhammad. It is hardly a giant stretch from that obvious and unassailable conclusion to see why anyone, well-schooled in the Islamic faith, could easily come to the opinion that Allah is nothing more than Muhammad’s alter-ego, and as a result, Muhammad’s ‘dead hand’ is the unforeseen element in all acts based upon Islamic doctrine.
Even Muhammad’s favorite child-bride, Aisha, and other early Muslims that personally knew Muhammad saw in the Quran the very essence of Muhammad’s character. In his timeless classic, ‘The Faith of Islam’, Edward Sell revealed how early Muslims viewed Muhammad:
‘It was common practice of the early Muslims when speaking of the Prophet to say: ‘His character is the Quran.’ When people curious to know details of the life of their beloved master asked Aisha, one of his widows, about him, she used to reply: ‘Thou hast the Quran, art thou not an Arab and readest the Arab tongue? Why dost thou ask me, for the Prophet’s disposition is no other than the Quran?’
Such statements suggest that even Aisha was skeptical of Muhammad’s claim to a divine mission and that she recognized the Quran for what it was – the work of her own husband. There are hadiths, which clearly show that Aisha was cryptically skeptical of at least some of her husband’s revelations. For example, when Muhammad desired to marry a fifth woman, beyond four wives allowed in earlier verses (4:3 etc.) and Allah quickly revealed a new verse allowing Muhammad only to marry unlimited number of women, Aisha wittily remarked: ‘Your Allah seemed eager to grant your earthly desires’.
Bear in mind that it would have been impossible for Aisha and other early Muslims to openly question Muhammad’s claims, as to do so would have been tantamount to apostasy and would have resulted in a death sentence. It may well be then that the foregoing claims were none other than code for communicating that Muhammad made up his alleged revelations and that Muhammad and Allah were, therefore, one and the same. What else would explain Aisha’s equation with what was supposed to be the word of Allah with Muhammad’s character? While I have no doubt that slick Islamic apologists can craft an alternate explanation, any acceptance of such an alternate explanation requires, in my view, blind faith in Muhammad himself and his alleged divine mission.
To grasp that Islam and Allah are nothing more than Muhammad’s alter-ego, one has to understand Islam. Islam is a religion, founded in the seventh century by Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, and is based on the Quran, hadiths, and Sira (biography of Muhammad). Pious Muslims attempt to practice Islam just as the first generation of Muslims did as set forth in the Quran, hadiths, and Sira by following Muhammad's example.
Islam is a revealed religion with a distinct set of unchanging rules and guidelines to follow. It is unlike some new-age religion that is supposed to "come from within". It seems quite incongruous for one, namely a so-called moderate Muslim, to claim that he/she believes that Muhammad was Allah's Prophet and Messenger and therefore profess to be a Muslim, and then reject clear Islamic doctrine as established by Muhammad, especially when the Qur'an demands that Muslims obey Muhammad and follow him as a "perfect" example. This alleged command from Allah seems so awfully self-serving that it constitutes strong evidence as to the authorship of the Qur’an. If the Qur’an is really just Muhammad speaking in the name of his alter-ego, Allah, in order to gain religious and temporal authority, then such a command is to be expected. If Allah is truly the one and only all-powerful God, why would he give a mere infallible mortal the authority to establish model human behavior for all time? Why would God allow Muhammad’s assassinations and lustful behavior be a model for humanity to emulate? The obvious answer is that Allah and Muhammad are synonymous.
Islam, meaning submission, is so named because Muhammad claimed that is the word Allah said to him in several alleged revelations. Otherwise, the religion would surely have been known as Muhammadanism or something similar thereto. If one reads old writings about Islam, the religion is typically referred to as Muhammadanism as it was understood, and rightly so, that Islam’s adherents were following the teachings and actions of Muhammad.
While Muslims find it offensive to be called Muhammadans, that offense is based on the belief that the religion comes from Allah, who they believe to be the only God. For those that lack belief in Muhammad’s alleged divine mission, the religion is clearly Muhammadanism, which I also often refer to as fundamentalist Islam and Islamism. Of course, some confusion arises in observers of Islam as many Muslims do not, fortunately, engage in the kind of terrorist activities perpetrated by Muhammad and his initial followers that have propelled the debate about Islam to its current level of interest.
Because so many Muslims do not practice fundamentalist Islam, the religion often masks its true nature very effectively. Any religion, no matter how clear its doctrines, varies in practice depending upon the nature of the culture of its practitioners and their level of knowledge and understanding of its true doctrines. This principle is especially true for Islam. But no matter how modified Islam may become at certain times and locations, it remains a revealed religion; and there is, therefore, only one Islam. The so-called moderate, peaceful Muslims are simply driven by moral, cultural, legal, and/or political influences that are separate and apart from Islam, but which often mix to produce a version of, a syncretic, Islam that is similar in the way Sikhism is a syncretic mix of Islam and Hinduism.
Islam, in its origin itself, is a syncretic religion that incorporates beliefs, albeit heavily modified beliefs, from other religions, particularly Arabian Paganism, Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Because it is already a syncretic religion, Islam has historically readily absorbed increased influence from previous religions of its new converts in specific regions. The history of Islam shows periods of modification of the original Islam preached and practiced by Muhammad to more tolerant and peaceful forms of Islam as practiced at certain times and geographical locations followed by inevitable reformation movements, intent on returning Islam to its true roots as a religion based upon the Qur'an, Hadiths and Sira. We witnessed in Turkey a process of secularization of Islam since beginning of the 20th century, but the ruling Islamist AK Party is currently, slowly but surely, sliding the country back in the direction of its Muhammadan roots. The modern age has witnessed a similar process of reformation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere, but a retracement to fundamental Islam is currently at work in those places.
Islam can be fairly summarized as a religion based upon emulating Muhammad and obeying him. Islam’s ethics and moral code derives from mimicking Muhammad's actions and obeying what he commanded. It is, therefore, a religion irretrievably stuck in the seventh century and exhibiting the mixed and often conflicting values and qualities of its founder. Ergo, the ‘dead hand’ theory set forth above. To more fully learn about Islam's founder's character and to thereby gain a fuller understanding of Islam as a religion and Allah as Muhammad’s alter-ego, please see my prior article titled "A Nineteenth Century Expert's Insight into Muhammad's Legacy." Muhammad’s mixed, but ultimately deadly, legacy is the personification of the Islamic faith and for a very good reason, Islam is nothing more than a reflection of Muhammad’s alter-ego, and Allah and Muhammad are one and the same. It is no mystery then that different people see Islam quite differently just as Muhammad’s friends, to whom he was generous, saw him quite differently from many of the non-Muslims, whom Muhammad and his followers cruelly slaughtered or oppressed.
This basic understanding of Islam makes it obvious that the nature of Islam – deriving as it does solely from the ideology and life of Muhammad – that locks its true adherents into Muhammad’s a seventh-century moral code, which is impossible to be justified by any equitable ethical standard other than the belief that such practices were compelled by Muhammad and belief in his allegedly divine mission.
The Qur'an, which undeniably came from Muhammad unless, again, one believes Muhammad was God’s Messenger, stands alone amongst the World's religious texts as commanding the faithful to wage perpetual war against unbelievers until they are killed, converted or subdued into a discriminated status and paying tribute to Muslims. Such a universal command to perpetual warfare against non-Muslims reveals the parallel between the Islamic faith and the life of Muhammad. The thousands of Islamic terrorist attacks are a cosmopolitan problem not limited to any specific culture or even limited to several cultures. That so many diverse cultures produce Islamic terrorists is, to any rational observer, absolute proof that there is something within Islamic doctrine itself driving the terrorism – a repetition of the same type of conduct by Muhammad and his immediate followers.
Now, given that neither Judaism nor Christianity demands that its followers to emulate the life of its founder, as does Islam, can these three religions share the same values? Of course not! The three religions should, therefore, not be deceptively lumped together as ‘Abrahamic religions’.
While Mohammad derived some "inspiration" from Judaism and Christianity, albeit heretical Christianity, he appears to have done so from memory or imperfect Jewish and Christian writings, because his version of Biblical stories, as set forth in the Qur’an, always vary from what is related in the Bible. When confronted with these discrepancies as a challenge to his prophetic legitimacy, Muhammad justified his errors by claiming that the Jewish and Christian sources were "corrupted”. Do these shared similar stories establish that Judaism, Christianity and Islam "share a common origin and values" or the same God such that Islam should be labeled an Abrahamic religion? The Catholic Church apparently assumes as such, but most Christian Protestant churches disagree and for a good reason.
The Catholic Church is simply wrong. Perhaps the Catholic Church accepted Muhammad's claim that Allah and the Jewish and Christian God were one and the same. Perhaps the Catholic Church hopes to reconcile the two religions or to convert Muslims to Catholicism. But, in my view, having rejected Muhammad as God's Messenger and Prophet, we must also reject verses of the Qur'an that states that Muslims worship the same God as the Jews and Christians. A careful examination of Muhammad's actions and what Muhammad was trying to achieve simply establishes that Allah was simply his alter-ego, whom he used to sanctify his actions; Allah is not the same God the Jews and Christians worship, but at best a fabrication intended to try and win over their support and convert them to Islam.
While God is invisible, believers’ belief in God is embodied by the principles God should stand for. When the principles attributed to Allah are so opposed to those of Jewish and Christian God, then can God and Allah be one and the same? Of course not!
At a certain level of differentiation, separate religions cannot worship the same God. Given the welcome and liberty Jews enjoy in the Christian world as well as the support the pious Christians offer to Jews and Israel, in contrast to the intense hatred and hostility that Muslims show towards Jews (also Christians and other non-Muslims), may also lend credence to the fact that while Jews and Christians do patently worship the same God, Muslim do not. However, Christians and Jews, by saying that Allah is one and the same with the God of the Bible, lend Muhammad a degree of approval and legitimacy, which he does not deserve.
Muhammad's success was in no way related to any alleged legitimacy of his mission. While his success in this world led, and continues to lead, many people to conclude that he must have been following God and, therefore, Allah is the Judeo-Christian God, his success has a far more worldly explanation. Muhammad’s success was, in part, related to his ability to transfer many people's natural belief in God to him by the use of various techniques, which sometimes included persuasion, but the most important of which were terror and allure of material gains. Muhammad freely admitted that the secret of his success was terror, and that through terror untold treasures had been brought to him.
Muhammad had limited success in converting people until he started using terror to coerce, or booty from his plunders to lure the greedy people to his fold. Only after Muhammad became powerful and successful via robbery, warfare and genocide that his followings swelled. Many vanquished people are, over time, attracted to the power and authority of their conquerors. Not only does success win people over in its own right, but a separate psychological process occurs. On an individual scale, we call it the Stockholm Syndrome. I believe that same principle plays a factor in the conqueror and vanquished group dynamics. Clearly, the Meccans did not all of a sudden have a group epiphany, until were coerced by Muhammad’s large invasion force and his command (Q 9:5) to slay the pagans unless they convert to Islam. Once Muhammad used these techniques to unite the Arabian Peninsula, the success of the following Great Arab Conquests was a natural consequence of the following factors: 1) The almost complete decline of Western civilization and lesser decline of Eastern Roman civilization; 2) The decadence of Persian civilization; 3) The plague that so devastated the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire during Justinian’s reign and which wiped out a significant portion of the population; 4) The long-term conflict between the Persian and Byzantine Empires; 5) The Arab’s win-win belief of booty if they prevailed in combat and an erotic heavenly paradise if they were killed; 6) The fatalism of the Arabs that led them to believe that whatever happened was preordained by Allah and his will; and 7) The historical record repeatedly shows that when previously divided civilizations unite they tend to become militarily dominant as it destroys the previously existing balance of power. Consider the examples of ancient Greece and the modern example of Germany.
Many have claimed that Islam is not an Abrahamic religion, because Islam is nothing more than a modernized version of pagan moon-worship. While I see why such a conclusion could be reached and concur that it is an intriguing theory with some support, the Qur'an states in verse 41:37: "Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Adore not the sun and the moon, but adore God, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve."
Such a verse reveals that Muhammad was, undoubtedly, deeply influenced by Arabian paganism that included moon-worship, but he clearly was trying to develop something other than unadulterated moon-worship or, at a minimum, was trying to disguise the true nature of Islam, despite the fact that the revered Black Stone, contained to this day in the Kaaba, may well be a meteorite that was mistakenly believed by pagan Arabs to have fallen from the moon, and which has been incorporated into Islamic belief albeit with modifications as to its alleged origin. It is clear that Allah had been worshiped by Arabs long before the advent of Islam.
In fact, one could quite reasonably argue that Islam is a curious form of monotheism in that it involves the unique situation wherein a "god" that was at first merely part of a pantheon of gods was "promoted" to the status of sole deity (Allah as a Zeus like figure). Such a situation differs remarkably from the nature of monotheism as believed by Christians and Jews whose God was never part of a Greek mythology type pantheon of gods.
Despite all of the evidence that certainly makes a compelling argument as to Islam’s ties to prior moon-worship, it is impossible to conclusively establish Muhammad's secret intentions, if any. Regardless, the better conclusion is that moon-worship is simply one of many influences on Islam, because it was a factor in the development of Muhammad’s belief system and it is, therefore, one aspect of his alter-ego – Allah. The evidence used to support the claim that Allah is nothing more than the old pagan moon-god more fully supports my interpretation of the evidence that such evidence exists, because it was a factor in Muhammad’s development and given that Allah and Muhammad are one and the same, it is not surprising that elements of pagan moon-worship are incorporated into Islam.
In refuting the claim that Islam is an Abrahamic religion, its central doctrines are far more important than the limited circumstantial evidence that associates Islam with moon-worship. The biggest change Muhammad made was that, while pagan Arabia was a fairly pluralistic society with respect to religious beliefs, Muhammad created a religion that had very little tolerance for lack of belief in Muhammad as Allah's Prophet or Messenger. In short, Muhammad converted a society where great diversity of belief and practice was greatly tolerated to a society, where Islam was the only religion tolerated with little exception. What is significant is not just that Muhammad created a new and distinct form of monotheism regardless of whether Allah is supposedly the moon-god, but that Muhammad’s version of monotheism was combined with the much more significant belief for the modern world that Muhammad himself had to be obeyed just as Allah was to be obeyed, and that Muslims are commanded to emulate Muhammad in all things. Muhammad simply needed to create a fearsome Allah to convert many people’s natural belief in and fear of God to his benefit.
The Allah of Islamic doctrine is, therefore, nothing more and nothing less than Muhammad's alter-ego, and is undoubtedly far removed from the Judeo-Christian conception of God. It also follows that Islam is neither unadulterated moon-worship nor an Abrahamic faith that worships the God of Judaism and Christianity. Allah is simply a syncretic god created by Muhammad based upon all of the influences existing in seventh-century the Arabian Peninsula that affected his psychological development and his own personality, wants and desires.
The confusion about Islam's origins and its nature lies, at least in part, in the fact that so many influences affected Muhammad. He was obviously greatly influenced by Arabian paganism, which was in turn influenced by much, if not most, of the beliefs prevalent in the Middle East. Consider the modern rituals of Islam and compare them to the pre-Islamic practices and one sees undeniable influence. For example, in addition to beliefs relating to the Black Stone contained within the Kabaaa, the Kabaaa and pilgrimage to it remains a devoted aspect of pre-Islamic Arabian pagan, as well as Islamic, faith and practice.
Zoroastrianism also affected the development of Islam. Just compare the statement of faith for Zorastrianism - "I profess myself a devotee of Mazda, a follower of Zarathustra" - to the Shahada, or statement of faith for Islam - "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet." It seems obvious to me where Muhammad got his idea for such a statement of faith. He simply modified it to meet his own goal and desire for religious and temporal power and all the women, wealth and prestige that came with it.
Muhammad was also obviously somewhat familiar with the heretical versions of Christianity, to which he was exposed, but Christianity plays a very small role in the syncretic mix that is Islam. And the spirit of true Islam and that of true Christianity are far removed from each other. The Golden Rule of the Bible – Do unto others as you would have them do to you – and the Sword Verses of the Quran can’t simply be reconciled. The Golden Rule simply cannot be reconciled with what Muhammad did to others and commanded his followers to do likewise.
Moreover, the core belief of Christianity is that Jesus died for everyone's sins and belief in him leads to the desire to live by the Golden Rule and salvation. Conversely, Islam says that is all a lie, and that Jesus was not even crucified. The two religions could not, therefore, be much more opposed to one another in either their central belief or moral code.
Similarly, Islam created intense hatred and contempt for the Jews: Muhammad commanded annihilation of the Jews to the last man, according to a hadith. How can, then, the two religions have shared value? Instead, they are also diametrically opposed to one another. Disdain for pork or male circumcision etc. may only point to Muhammad’s copying some of Judaism’s ceremonial rituals, but they lend little support to establish that the two religions have shared material values.