UI – Part 181 – Are Muslims Caged (1 of 2)
The question seems simple enough. It is not intended to be demeaning although many may take it that way. I probably could have asked it in a more politically correct fashion. No more excuses. Are Muslims caged? Have they been imprisoned for centuries by false beliefs which are required to be followed blindly?
Criticism of Islam
By now you are aware I am Christian. It is easy to deny my expertise on Islam, as in all such instances unless one is a Muslim, the Muslim apologists contend, there can be no valid criticism of Islam. In that regard the same could be said of any Muslim, even a Muslim scholar that criticizes the Bible. Yet few Muslims scholars have tempered their criticism of biblical and Christian history. I have not read the Quran in the Arabic in which it is written. But then neither have the vast majority of Muslims. I have read English translations and commentary. I have researched what I have read. Many companion documents providing explanation, support and criticism have been part of my reading library as well. Books on the history of Islam and its prophet Muhammad have found hours in my hands. In addition I have written hundreds and hundreds of pages on this blog raising questions, concerns and making available for comment issues on Islam. To write a blog, study, correspondence and discussions with Muslims, active and apostates, has been useful in preparation and understanding. There are millions of Muslims who have not read the Quran in any form, except to memorize the words of prayer (Sura 1) and Allahu Akbar. I feel justified in my comments and concerns.
I approached Islam as I did my Christian faith. I wrote in Wake Up! Wake Up! The Testimony of a Layman how I became a convicted Christian. Using similar study techniques I found Islam wanting in many areas – most have been discussed these past two years on this Blog site. I believe in God. I have even researched the many skeptics post the Enlightenment. Useful may be my review of philosophers, scientists and atheists on the topic of God in the book, The Proven God. I have yet to write a book on Islam, but having produced more pages than available in most books on this blog I have achieved a level of understanding most people, to include Muslims, do not have about Islam. I continue to learn and discover. I have been free also to question the Quran, the history of Muhammad, and raise doubts and concerns about this religion. I have come to view Islam more an Ideology than a religion. The latitude I have had, as an American, to be as thorough as I have and continue to be in dialog, reading and research has led to this Blog topic.
There is no opposition to Blind Faith on my part. I do have a problem with ignorant faith. Whereas Muhammad, so the stories contend, led the Arab Peninsula out of an Age of Ignorance, I would suggest his success remains only in the methods employed which continue today, but which have also failed in the goal of this evolution. There is more Blind Faith in Islam that an intellectual acceptance. This is where the Cage, or the concept of containment, restrictive practices limiting individual freedom of thought, comes into play.
Muhammad changed from his days in Mecca as a small time preacher to a more political warrior while in Medina, after the Hijra. What he discovered is control by force, conversions by fear or force, and elimination of the opposition, the non-believers. After his death the successors, even though not in total harmony, found being the warrior more to their liking, the spoils of battle worthwhile. When conducting raids in the name of Allah there was a sense of justification. The residents of conquered areas were told the victors where soldiers of god. Complying with their demands, accepting the one god Allah of the Saracens, would be healthy for them, i.e., they would live longer. It was the early stages of the cages of Islam being established.
Muhammad’s military actions were mitigated by religious practices. Daily and frequent prayer, a call for all to gather on Friday, was compelling. His compound in Medina contained his household residence as well as a neighboring mosque where followers were called to prayer.
No Bible, No Islam
The Bible came well before Islam, a known fact. Without the Bible there would be no Islam. Possibly a contentious fact. Ishmael was the illegitimate son of Abram (renamed Abraham later), his mother an Egyptian maid-servant to his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah by God). Hagar was told by God to submit to Abram and when pregnant, from Genesis 16:11-12, “the angel of the Lord…said to her: You are now with child and you will have a son. You will name him Ishmael…He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” She was told there would be numerous descendants.
It was 13 years later that God confirmed his covenant on Abram, renaming him Abraham, “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.” (Gen 17:5-6) He was then told he and his renamed wife Sarah would have a son – their own, even at their age. God’s covenant will be with him, “an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (G 17:19). That son was Isaac. “As for Ishmael,” God said to Abraham, “I will surely bless him…But my covenant I will establish with Isaac.” (G 17:20-21).
Ishmael was left in the desert with his mother Hagar after Isaac was born and Sarah became jealous. From the Bible was thus heralded the beginnings of the Arab nations. “God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer.” (Gen 21:20). Ishmael married an Egyptian and the Arab nations grew from his loins as well as those of the Pharaoh’s. It was the line from Isaac then led to Christ. It was Isaac, Ishmael no longer living with Abraham and Sarah, that was taken by Abraham at God’s instruction to be sacrificed.
From the Bible came Ishmael, the desert nations, but not the covenant of God; it was the Blessings of God Ishmael received. The Covenant on Isaac led nations and kings that foretold of Jesus. But after Jesus all people, all mankind came under the Covenant. God’s ultimate sacrifice took care of that.
Gospel Story and Muhammad’s Purposes
That gospel story did not serve Muhammad’s purposes. He wanted to control the Arabs, to provide them history and a connection to the one god of his chossing – Allah. He only had the Book of the People. He had no other stories. He took it upon himself to make changes to the Bible to suit his purposes. As an Arab he knew of Ishmael as the father of the nations of the Arabian Peninsula and mistook and adopted the Isaac story in error, but to serve his program. Thus we have Ishmael potentially sacrificed, his father now Abraham and not Abram. This is inconsistent with biblical history.
Muhammad believed in one God. That is without question. What came about though is the combination of an inability to convert peaceably and an ability to convert forcibly that gave Muhammad strength, power, position and stature. He then commanded obedience. This was as a command of Allah, a transferance of obedience to Muhammad, to then serve Allah, according to Muhammad. Along with obedience there could be no disputing his claims. He insisted on blind faith. There was no book of Muhammad’s faith, only his vocalized verses, at times altered on the go. What was said in Medina abrogated what was said in Mecca, the more violent superseding the more peaceful approach to monotheism by Muhammad. The cage was under construction.
To be continued next week…..