UI – Part 268 – Does Islam Need Muhammad? (‘b’ of a&b)
(Continued from last week)
History suggests the Sunni’s, dominant in the Muslim world (over 90%), were always militant. Muhammad is their example. Muhammad is also an example for the Shiite. The spread of the ideology immediately after Muhammad’s death was rapid, but then held steady in the lands conquered in the first 60 or so years. The spread was more by forced conversion due to military invasions than voluntary. The faith did not become more practiced until after the Hadiths and Sunnah were made available; that was after 850 AD (200 years after Muhammad). In the interim the ideology was a useful tool for the conquerors that claimed their success was because of Allah.
So many asked – who is Allah? The explanation was ‘God’, but by new standards. Christ was not divine.
Muhammad’s life and that of ensuing Caliphs (the first 4 were the Rightly Guided – Sunni. Ali was the 4th Rightly Guided and the first Imam of Shia Islam) insisted the people of the AP, and new territories taken in the name of Allah, abide by their dictates. They took to the sword to make people believe in Allah. Conversion by force was just as viable as conversion willingly, but more productive. Actions taken in the name of the Messenger and Allah were justifiable, as any victory was proof that Allah was on their side.
Muslims at first were mostly people of the AP, their descendents and descendents of those converted by conquest. As years passed after areas like Jerusalem, Damascus, and Baghdad were overtaken, the children growing up in a revised culture, being Muslim was accepted – not necessarily understood.
There were areas, such as Afghanistan, that chose to be Muslim, not forced, as they successfully resisted the armies of the Caliph’s for years. The Afghans, many Sunni, are not Arab Muslims, as is much of the Muslim world. 80% or so are not Arab Muslims. Turkey and Asian Muslims are not Arab.
Non-Arab Muslims, such as those of Afghanistan, who converted in the 800’s, chose tolerance and pluralism. They were not forced to accept Islam by the Imperialistic Caliphs. They resisted. Being righteous and good persons was important to them. They heard this was part of the religion of Islam. They were not fully versed in the Scripture, only the more pleasing proclamations of one god, Allah, who called this new faith a Religion of Peace. It was not the militant principles and the extermination of the infidels that were of interest to them. It was a prudent and caring way of life. They did not see their dominant character running about with weapon in hand crying out ‘Allahu Akbar.’ – at least not until the birth of the Taliban in 1994.
The Taliban was founded in madrassas established using oil dollars from Saudi Arabia to educate young students in the fundamentals of Islam, by Wahhabist standards. They became a student-militant force initially to protect trade routes being exploited for money from Pakistan to Kandahar to Herat to Iran, Russia and Asia. They were taught the ways of Muhammad, the ways of the Arab Muslims. Caches of arms uncovered equipped them and made them more powerful. Their accomplishments led to increased organization and eventually a force to be reckoned with.
The religious aspect of these Muslims in the beginning was to be godly, not live life as exemplified by Muhammad, but as a good person loving God and respecting God. Living life as God would expect them, by the humanity of one towards another, treating each other as one would want to be treated, was more their philosophy and religion. That is until the fundamentalists began preaching. They also were comfortable with secularism, separation of mosque and state and laws established for the common good of all citizens. That is, again, until the fundamentalists began preaching and Sharia was repeated as the constitution for Muslims along with pockets of Islamic Police invading their more peace-loving cities and towns. The Taliban changed attitudes.
Mumin Salih in 2008 wrote in an article (entitled: The Racist, Arab-Supremacist Nature of Islam and non-Arab Muslims) “The non-Arab Muslims devotion to Islam defies logic, not only because Islam is biased against them, but also because they believe in a religion that is completely based on a foreign language which they do not speak or understand.” When they convert they need to study Arabic. But how many do so? It is the idea of God, a Supreme Being that guides man in a good life that becomes important to them. God is the essence, not Muhammad.
Is the militant side of Islam more because of Muhammad? Without him, his example, would Muslims be more tolerant, less militant and more peace-loving? Would they be more accepting of non-Muslim neighbors?
Christianity in the Far East
Also the growth of Christianity went as far East as India, and beyond to a limited extent. The rise of Islam from its foundations on the AP created a barrier to future growth of Christianity to the East of Mesopotamia as the aggressive Caliphs used their armies to hold the ground they captured. The Story of Christianity rests mainly in the Western Roman Empire regions, north to the UK, and even into Russia, where the Orthodox spread before Communism.
As the Messenger Muhammad was a carrier (self-proclaimed) of the words given him through an angel by the supernatural, he was inspired and moved to speak out what was revealed to him. This led to the formation of Islam with their god – Allah. Muhammad is pictured pointing upward to the one god.
In the Bible there were many messengers, prophets, none self-proclaimed, as I recall. And none of the Biblical prophets held themselves to such high standards that they were to be revered, to be honored on a parallel very close to god.
In Islam the Messenger and Allah are protected by the zealots even when cartoons, depictions, jokes or comments considered persecution are made. Why? He was mortal. Sure he did call for an army of followers and led them as he did to become accepting of one god. This is not without distortions or disagreements with the Word of God available at that time. Muhammad saw the Bible as competition for his program. It required alteration, which as the Messenger, he told his gatherings, were changes Allah made himself. This included the right to deceive, to lie to a non-believer, to enable Mary to bear a child even as a virgin but not be the Father, to forgive Adam of his sin in the garden of Eden thus cleansing all mankind of Original Sin (until they sin again), to repeatedly deny the divinity of Christ, to question Christians calling them polytheists (believing in the Trinity as the Father, Son and Mary) and to call for the killing of non-believers. Fighting, beheading, and causing severe chastisement to those who did not accept, to those who denied, or to those who questioned Muhammad and his proclamations was quite all right. They were orders from The Messenger, however.
Is this a person, Muhammad, we need to worship or honor because if we do not we can be killed? Such actions, are they taken in the name of Allah? Is this what God would really want or do? What about answering the call to your faith on your own?
A Christian would never be killed if they did not revere Isaiah or Jeremiah, even if they made cartoons of them, or all the Biblical prophets as a gathering. Nor would a non-Christian.
Love God. Love Neighbor. Become Righteous in the Name of the Lord
What is important is your faith in God. The Messenger is not essential. Messengers, the prophets, are/were helpful, informative and in the Bible, the many messengers provided the forecast of the coming of the Savior, the savior for all mankind. And he came. He lived. He sacrificed his life as punishment for our sins. He died. He rose from the dead. He was resurrected. All this was foretold. He paved the way for those who believe in the one God to have a life eternal with Him. Only God can overcome sin and death. The Spirit of God came to dwell in those who believe. The prophets gave us history and the pathway to the Savior. It was recorded in the Bible. It all ended with Christ. The Message was delivered. Salvation made possible.
All religions call for punishment for wrongs committed. But only Christ, God incarnate, suffered for your sins and mine. He was condemned to die and taken to the Cross where when he cried out, ‘God, God, why have you forsaken me’, your sins, my sins, all sins where on him. At that moment God turned his back on Christ so he could be punished in our place. “For the wages of sin is death (The payment for sin is death).”(Romans 6:23 NIV) He died for our transgressions. He faced Satan and pointed his finger at him saying ‘I have overcome sin,’ and then he proceeded to overcome death, to rise up, resurrected, to be with his disciples. This was foretold in Genesis. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Christ sacrificed his life’s blood to set us free, which means that our sins are now forgiven).” (Eph 1:7 NIV) “By being raised from the dead he was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God himself.” (Romans 1:4 TLB).
They witnessed, they believed, they carried Christ’s message – the great commission. After 50 days in the resurrected state Christ ascended into heaven. But he provided a Counselor to follow. It was not Muhammad. It was the Spirit of God descending to dwell within all who accept God’s most gracious act of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit. The believers are justified by their faith in the Risen Lord and are purposed to do good. It is not as a measurement of faith, but as a result of believing. You live a life guided by Christ’s life. He is the example. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)
Islam does not need Muhammad. The world needs Christ. All people of the world need Christ. Christ has satisfied that need. Just Believe. It is not blind believing. God provided and now knowing and believing is justification enough to be faithful to God and live to then enjoy a life eternal with Him. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new).” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Know God, know Christ, and there will be nothing to fear.
Thanks Be to God.
Grace and Peace