UI – Part 268 – Does Islam Need Muhammad? (‘a’ of a&b)
What Muhammad accomplished in the Arabian Peninsula (‘AP’) was re-focusing of the Arabs on one-god. In the early 600’s (CE) many tribes and the multitude of believers living in the AP who had a variety of supernatural ‘Almighties’ were now being told there is but one – just one. The Kaaba that his family, the Quraysh, maintained contained an estimated 360 idols, from moon gods to Christ. When Muhammad’s army of 10,000 finally took revenge on Mecca (630 CE), the City that he felt persecuted him, the idols were destroyed and the people, including the family members were forced to convert to the ideology of Muhammad based upon his personal revelations – the one god Allah.
Was it Allah’s Will? Was it Muhammad’s Will?
Yes there is one Creator. That is the starting point. From there people and their thinking evolves – How do we/you envision that one God?
We know there are those, possibly a religious coalition unto themselves, of the No-God sect. This includes atheists and humanists. Our focus though is on those who believe in the Creator. Humans are the ‘Created.’ There is but one.
Muhammad was a self-proclaimed Prophet. “I am the Prophet of Allah,” one could suggest he said, as no one else was saying that. He announced to his followers that Allah chose him, using the angel Gabriel to visit with him, to share His words with the people of the AP. This is similar to the Bible and Prophets, many, forecasting, but the difference is that the Biblical prophets forecast the coming of Jesus. Isaiah and Jeremiah were two of the more notable, but also Amos and Malachi, lesser in terms of words written, but still forecasters of the future. Were they all visited by Gabriel? But more important than the answer to that question, did they become as important and revered as god, in this case Allah, as is Muhammad in the practice of Islam? Is the worship of Muhammad, or let us say the protection of his image, warranted?
The Quran refers to Allah alone in the early chronological order of things. It was in the later stages of reporting that Muhammad was introduced, as the Messenger, and honor and respect for his position was commanded or ‘severe chastisement’ would result. Was this necessary? Did a man impose his will straying from Allah’s Plan? Allah’s Will may not have been enough, requiring too much patience to achieve victory, and thus man’s will, that of Muhammad (and his successors), took over declaring victory in the name of Allah but at the sword of Muhammad and his committed followers.
Allah’s or Man’s Rule? Who’s Will?
This leads also to the concept of a Theocracy wherein the temple of worship and the house of congress become the same. Mosque and State are as one. But the State is man, men’s will ordering the matters of State under the banner of heaven, a heaven in which Allah dwells. Conquer a weak opponent, make them convert and live under the rules of the new King, the Caliph in charge, and refer to the Rules as Allah’s. The Police then administer the Will of Allah and the Will of the Man-King-Caliph as the Rule of Law (Sharia).
Injecting the self-proclaimed Prophet into the mix of Islam makes for a human hierarchy from the believer to their teacher to the scholar to the Imam to the Prophet to Allah. At each stage of this progression the ‘will’ of the more prominent, the more powerful, the higher in the political and religious order becomes, according to their proclamations, the ‘will’ of the Creator.
Common sense tells us the Will of Man is not the Will of God or Allah.
The Catholics have a hierarchy of sorts. Until the Reformation, or the Enlightenment, when Martin Luther spoke out declaring the link between each human and God is a direct relationship without need for an intermediary, such as a Priest or Pope, the Catholics were the religion for Christ followers. Inherent in Catholicism is considerable structure by those, the men, who formed this Universal Church. Even Sacraments outside the Bible were made part of the religion. After the Reformation the individual was allowed, or freed, to make his own decisions reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves. The Protestants still do.
Did Muhammad see the need for a hierarchy in his belief system, learned from the Catholics, the most ordered form of religion at that time? I believe he felt it applied and thus was incorporated as his system evolved. I am not saying Muhammad was aware of the Catholic structure, but as the Catholic religious leaders sensed an opportunity for power in their position of influence, even amassing an army they could direct, so did Muhammad. Included in the later writings in the Quran is Muhammad, now more important to the story, its history and the need to violently impose his will, as necessary.
The Caliphs born from the death of Muhammad discovered their chance to impose their ‘will’ also. Not only were they opportunists using the army of followers Muhammad established in growing an empire expanding North, West and East from the AP. They used Allah as the justification for any success they enjoyed. Men’s will be done, thank Allah.
The Imams (of the Twelvers) in the mid-1970’s became more active in their focus on government. They became despondent over the extent to which their people, especially those in Iran, embraced Western ideals of freedom. They needed to exercise greater religious oversight and through government that could be achieved. Jihad which had been more self-flagellation, more personal, then became more militant – the Iranian Revolution in 1979 is evidence. Oppression and dictatorial demands on the people are now used to contain dissent. The Ayatollah and President of Iran run the show; Islam and Government hand-in-hand by the book – the Quran.
Until the mid-1900’s (closer to the 1979 Iranian Revolution) the Shiite Imams (of the Twelvers mostly) separated Mosque and State. They were passive, in a minority position (Sunnis the majority), and did not assassinate or seek revolution. Theirs was a religious calling; their jihad was their own. They continued to mourn the death of the Imam Husayn (Husayn ibn Ali), a martyr for the blood line of Muhammad to be maintained in the leadership of the temple of their Islam. Husayn was the younger of Ali’s two sons.
Today they call those in the DNA strain of Muhammad (via Fatima and Ali), and also offshoots of that DNA strain from the last Imam (#12), Imams. Only they have the opportunity to be an Ayatollah. Waiting patiently for the Mahdi[i], in the meantime…. they, however, discovered the power of the political position having today morphed their once solely religious view into a theocratic position.
The Ayatollah Khomeini became the beacon for those that follow, now the Ayatollah Khamenei[ii], who calls for the one they want to be their political pawn, now Rouhani as President of Iran. He is the most powerful political authority in Iran, also having the title ‘Sayyid’, claiming direct descent from Ali. The new Constitution of Iran, after the Revolution, made the Imam Cleric, the Ayatollah, the Supreme Leader (the Head of State), politically as well as to religious affairs.
The role of Muhammad is noted today in the oath of office of the President of Iran, their declaration includes the words, “seeking help from God and following the example of the Prophet….” The Shiite Imams thus became subject to the whims of humans, the desires of man more than of god, to have power and use the Constitution of Iran to enforce their new status.
(To Be Continued and Concluded in two days) – Be sure to input (upper right) you email to insure receipt/notification of the publishing of the next Blog on this topic)
Grace and Peace
[i] The Redeemer of Islam. The one who will rule for 10-20 years before the Day of Judgment. On that day evil will be gone. Jesus Christ will also come at the same time as the Mahdi.
[ii] Khamenei was President of Iran (1981-1989) and is now considered the Supreme Leader of Iran (and Shia Cleric)