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Do Moslems, Christians & Jews Believe in the Same God? By: Serge Trifkovic
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, November 29, 2002

One in a series of excerpts adapted by Robert Locke from Dr. Serge Trifkovic’s new book, The Sword of the Prophet: A Politically-Incorrect Guide to Islam

One of the clichés endlessly repeated by those who would conceal the dangerous potentialities inherent in Islam is that Moslems "believe in the same God" as Christians and Jews. But this is a severe distortion of the truth, for what Moslems fundamentally believe is that they know the true nature of the God that Judaism and Christianity tell lies about. Lies for which Christians and Jews will be punished in hell. The fact that Moslems share Levantine monotheism with us thus makes them more, not less, antagonistic to us on a religious level. Hopes for reconciliation on the grounds of common monotheism, as opposed to a realistic "good fences make good neighbors" civilizational détente, are wishful thinking.

The widespread belief in the non-Muslim world that Islam accords respect to the Old Testament and the Gospels as steps in progression to Mohammad’s revelation is mistaken. Modern Muslim apologists try to stress the supposed underlying similarities and compatibility of the three faiths, but this is not the view of orthodox Islam. Muhammad’s insistence that there is a heavenly proto-Scripture and that previous "books" are merely distorted and tainted copies sent to previous nations or communities means that these scriptures are the "barbarous Koran" as opposed to the true, Arabic one. (Let’s leave aside for a minute the puzzling question of how any degree of "distortion" of the Koran could produce either an Old or a New Testament.) The Tradition also regards the non-canonical Gospel of Barnabas, and not the New Testament, as the one that Jesus taught. The Koran alone is the true word of God and sets aside all previous revelations.

While the influence of orthodox Christianity upon the Koran has been slight, apocryphal and heretical Christian legends are the second most important original source of Islam. In other words, Islam contains an awful lot that Christians have deliberately rejected over the years as religiously unsound. There are also influences of Sabaism, of Zoroastrianism, and of ancient Arabian paganism, including the divine sanction for the practices of polygamy and slavery. The reports in both the Koran and the Hadith (authoritative traditional sayings) concerning paradise, the houris, (virgins) the youths, the jinn (genies) and the angel of death have been directly taken from the ancient books of the Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism also originated the story that on the Day of Judgment all people will have to cross a bridge stretched across hell leading to paradise on which the unbelievers will stumble and fall down to hell.

The biblical stories been passed on to Muhammad presumably from Jewish and Christian sources, but it is probable that he never read the Old or the New Testament. Those narratives had deeply impressed him, but being incomplete and imprecise, they gave his imagination free rein. Of the books of the Old Testament he knew only of the Torah or Pentateuch and the Book of Psalms, while the Scriptures he treats collectively as "the Gospels." Muhammad took these narratives as they were given to him, and their use in the Koran amounts to random, approximate and often badly misunderstood reproduction of the Talmudic traditions and the Apocrypha. Moreover, they are of course devoid of their original contexts and of the spiritual message of the original.

Many Old Testament stories are changed beyond recognition, and can be treated as a "source" only in the most general sense. Abraham did not offer Isaac, but Ishmael, as a sacrifice. "Haman" was pharaoh’s chief minister, even though the Haman known to Jews lived in Babylon one thousand years later. Moses was picked from the river not by his sister but by his mother. A Samaritan was the one who molded the golden calf for the children of Israel and misguided them, even though Samarians arrived only after the Babylonian exile. The accounts of Moses’ life are sketchy and say nothing of his character, descent, the time he was sent as a prophet, the purpose of his mission, and where, how and why he appointed Aaron as his deputy. It does not relate the argument between them and the people of Israel, which is crucial to the story. The story of Noah reflected Muhammad’s dilemmas and difficulties rather than Noah’s mission, and even the names of the idols that Noah warns against are Arabic.

The Koran makes reference to Jesus, Mary and events related to them, but with a critical distinction. It explicitly denies that Jesus was crucified: Allah made the Jews so confused that they crucified somebody else instead who had the likeness of Christ: "They slew him not nor crucified but it appeared so unto them." Muslims claim that an impostor by the name of Shabih was crucified, and he resembled Jesus in his face only. It seems illogical to those who count "proud" as one of the "99 most beautiful names of Allah" that Jesus, who was capable of raising the dead and of healing the blind and the leper, willingly submitted to the cross and failed to destroy the Jews who intended to hurt him. Islam rejects the whole concept of the crucifixion, claiming that it is against reason to assume that Allah would not forgive man’s sins without the cross: to say so is to limit his power: "He forgives whom he will, and he chastises whom he will."

The denial of the Trinity is also explicit: Allah begets not, i.e. he is no Father; and was not begotten, that is, he is no Son; and no one is like him, which means he is no Holy Spirit. "They are infidels who say, Allah is the third of three." But "Isa" is not the Son of Allah, only a special prophet, and the Christians’ contrary claim shows how they are perverted. The Christians are guilty of blasphemy because of their belief in the "trinity" of Allah, Mary, and Jesus. The "real" Jesus was a righteous prophet and a good Muslim who paved the way for the final prophet, Muhammad himself.

There is a wishful myth in circulation among liberals that Islam accords respect to all "people of the book," i.e. Christians and Jews in addition to Moslems. While Islam indeed accords them a higher standing than it does to polytheists like Hindus (pace the question of whether Hinduism properly understood is truly polytheistic) or African animists, this hardly amounts to respect. Of all the "people of the book" only Muslims can attain salvation. Jews’ and Christians’ refusal to acknowledge Mohammed as the messenger of God dooms them to unbelief and eternal suffering after death. Christians are mortal sinners because of their belief in the divinity of Christ, and their condemnation is irrevocable: "God will forbid him the garden and the fire will be his abode."

Unlike the Christian faith in God revealing Himself through Christ, the Koran is not a revelation of Allah – a heretical concept in Islam – but the direct revelation of his commandments and the communication of his law. It has been said that the Koran, to a Muslim, is not the perfected Gospel, it Christ, the Word Incarnate. This is a somewhat tenuous metaphor, however, not a valid parallel: Christian God "comes down" and seeks man because of His fatherly love. The Fall cast a shadow, the Incarnation makes reconciliation possible. Allah, by contrast, is cold, haughty, unpredictable, unknowable, capricious, distant, and so purely transcendent that no "relationship" is possible. He reveals only his will, not himself. Allah is "everywhere," and therefore nowhere relevant to us. He is uninterested in making our acquaintance, let alone in being near to us because of love. We are still utterly unable to grasp his purposes and all we can do is what we have to do, to obey his command.

The Koran claims to be the fulfillment of a religious design which was imperfectly revealed to the Jews and to the Christians. It is the crowning synthesis, the final word. But viewing the matter objectively, leaving aside for a moment the question of the actual truth of the book, it seems hard to see how the Koran is a synthesis of anything. The way in which Christianity makes sense – again, simply as a logical matter and leaving aside the truth of it – as a fulfillment of Judaism, is clear even to the unbeliever. But the Koran’s claim is singularly implausible. Non-Muslim commentators fail to see in what way is the Koran an improvement over, or advancement on, the moral teaching, language, style, or coherence of the Old and New Testament. It is looks, feels, sounds like a construct entirely human in origin and intent, clear in its earthly sources of inspiration and the fulfillment of the daily needs, personal and political, of its author.

Finally, one cannot ignore that whatever mildly friendly things the Koran may say about Judaism and Christianity in its early part, the late Surras also signify the final break with the Jews and Christians, who are fiercely denounced. The Muslims must be merciless to the unbelievers but kind to each other. "Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them." War, not friendship, is mandatory until Islam reigns everywhere. Muslims are ordered to fight the unbelievers, "and let them find harshness in you." They must kill the unbelievers "wherever you find them." The punishment for resistance is execution or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides. By the stage in his life during which these Surras were written, Muhammad was no longer trying to convert his hearers by examples, promises, and warnings; he addresses them as their master and sovereign, praising them or blaming them for their conduct, giving laws and precepts as needed. His raw dogmatism stands, finally, naked of all pretence.

Serge Trifkovic received his PhD from the University of Southampton in England and pursued postdoctoral research at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. His past journalistic outlets have included the BBC World Service, the Voice of America, CNN International, MSNBC, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times of London, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is foreign affairs editor of Chronicles.

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