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My God is Better Than Yours (I): Christians Calling Muslims “Mohammedans” a Case of Pot Calling Kettle Black

This article is part 9 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

The anti-Muslim ideologues argue that the prophet of Islam was uniquely violent as compared to prophets of other religions, especially Judaism and Christianity; this is an argument furthered in chapter one of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  Further, they argue that the holy book of Islam is uniquely warlike as compared to scriptures of other faiths, especially the Bible; Spencer argues this in chapter two of his book.

These claims are not well-founded, and we’ve thoroughly refuted them (see parts 1234, 56, 7, and 8 of the Understanding Jihad Series).  Clearly, the Biblical prophets (Moses, Joshua, Samson, Saul, David, etc.) were more violent than the Prophet Muhammad; even Jesus, who promised to kill all his enemies, was no exception.  Similarly, the Bible is more violent than the Quran.

There is one specific manner in which the Biblical prophets and the Bible are to be considered more violent than Muhammad and the Quran: they sanction(ed) the killing of innocent civilians: women and children.  Worse yet, they sanction(ed) what can only be described as genocide.  Nowhere in the Quran is targeting the life of a non-combatant, especially a woman or child, permitted; in fact, the Prophet Muhammad strictly forbade such a thing.

For all the obfuscation that the anti-Muslim polemicists will provide in response to this Series, keep this point in mind which cannot be reiterated enough: the most significant difference, and why the Biblical prophets and the Bible are to be considered more warlike than the Islamic prophet and holy book, is that they permit(ted) the killing of non-combatants, including women and children–even to the point of allowing genocide. The Islamophobes can copy-and-paste Quranic verses until they go blue in the face (even with the help of those ever so helpful ellipses), but they can never find a single verse in the Quran like that.

Do Muslims Worship the Same God as Jews and Christians?

In addition to Islam’s prophet and holy book, anti-Muslim ideologues (most of whom come from Judeo-Christian backgrounds) absolutely despise the God of Islam: Allah.  Too ignorant to realize that the word Allah just means “God” in Arabic (or technically, The God) and that the Arabic version of the Bible uses the word “Allah” in it for the Judeo-Christian God–and too ignorant to realize that Jewish and Christian Arabs call their god “Allah”–the anti-Muslim ideologues unload all sorts of invective against Allah.

The anti-Muslim argument has two parts to it: (1) the God that Muslims worship is different than the God of the Jews and Christians; (2) this other, different pagan god is warlike, blood-thirsty, and brutal.  In order to debunk this argument, therefore, it is important to refute each individual part.  First, is the God of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims the same?  Second, what are the characteristics of the Muslim God as compared to the Jewish and Christian God?

Do Muslims Worship Muhammad?

The idea that Muslims don’t worship the same god as Jews and Christians dates back to at least the time of the Crusades: Crusader lore had it that the Muslims were “pagans” and that they worshiped the Prophet Muhammad instead of God.  In time, Muslims came to be known as Mahometans, and eventually Mohammedans. This misnomer was used by Orientalists, and continues to be employed by certain anti-Muslim elements today, including some Christians.

This is of course a fascinatingly ironic case of projection: by using this term, these anti-Muslim Christians are mocking Muslims for worshiping a man named Muhammad instead of God.  After all, who but a primitive pagan would worship a man-god? Yet, in actuality it is the Christian community that worships a “man-god”: Jesus Christ.

If Muslims are to be considered pagans for worshiping a man named Muhammad, should Christians be considered pagans for worshiping Jesus?  Even if Muhammad had claimed divinity, how would this have been any different from what Christians claim Jesus did?  Ironically, the pejorative term “Mohammedan” is to Muhammad what “Christian” is to Christ.

In any case, Muhammad never claimed divinity nor have Muslims ever believed such a thing.  In fact, the Quran instructed the Prophet Muhammad:

Say to them (O Muhammad): “I am only a human being like you.  It is revealed to me that your God is One God. So let him who hopes to meet his Lord do good deeds and let him associate no one else in the worship of his Lord.” (Quran, 18:110)

The Quran categorically declared that “Muhammad is no more than an apostle” who can die or even be killed (Quran, 3:144).  Indeed, when the Prophet Muhammad died, his successor Abu Bakr famously proclaimed:

Whoever worshiped Muhammad, let him know that Muhammad is dead.  But whoever worshiped God (Allah), let him know that God (Allah) lives and does not die. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:333)

It has even been part of the Islamic tradition to prohibit all imagery of the Prophet in order to prevent Muhammad from being “idolized” as Jesus was by Christians.  This precaution was based on the Prophet Muhammad’s fear of suffering a similar “fate” as Jesus.  Not only does the Quran repeatedly criticize the Christians for deifying Jesus, but Muhammad explicitly warned his followers:

Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary (Jesus), for I am only a slave.  So, call me the slave of God (Allah) and His Messenger. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:654)

It seems that Christians ought to be the absolute last people on earth to mock Muslims for worshiping Muhammad or calling them “Mohammedans.”  But alas, we will see a recurring pattern here: Christians criticizing Muslims for something that is present even more so in their own religion.

In any case, the Quran repeatedly warns against worshiping anyone or anything besides God (Allah):

Say: “Truly my prayer and my worship, my life and my death are all for God (Allah) alone, the Lord of the worlds.” (Quran, 6:162)

It would be very difficult to construct a case that Muslims actively worship Muhammad.  Unbelievably, however, this Crusader-era canard remains alive and well among some segments of anti-Muslim Christians.  Sam Shamoun, an anti-Muslim Christian polemicist, insists that Muslims do in fact worship Muhammad.  Shamoun uses several very weak arguments to “prove” this claim.  Fortunately, his arguments have been refuted here by Muslim apologist Bassam Zawadi.

For our intents and purposes, whether Muslims worship Muhammad or not is largely a theological debate between Muslims and Christians, one which is hardly relevant to our website.  However, it is relevant to us insofar as this claim is related to the “slur” of “Mohammedan”–an epithet which is used by many Islamophobes today.  It is a vestige of age-old Western confusion about and propaganda against Islam, whereby Muslims are “Other-ized”: Muslims are understood as followers of some alien and strange faith, one which worships a man named Muhammad instead of God.

Lastly, the “Muslims worship Muhammad” canard, which has been used by Christians against Muslims for hundreds of years, gives us the proper backdrop to understand the “Muslims worship the moon-god” conspiracy theory, which has become very popular among Islamophobes today.  The former Crusader-era canard has been repackaged in the form of the moon-god theory and is now being fed to the masses, once again serving to provide the propaganda needed to sustain our wars, our modern-day crusades against the Islamic world.

The Islamophobes “Other-ize” the god Muslims worship, comparing the “God of Love” supposedly found in the Judeo-Christian tradition with the “war and moon god” supposedly found in the religion of Islam.  The stealthy tacking on of the word “war” to “moon god” makes the moon-god theory directly relevant to the topic of jihad.  It is this “theory” that we turn our attention to next.

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  • Geji, the Ebionites too, are a Monotheistic version of Christianity.

    CI Edwards

    There is another very small (only about 20,000 worldwide) sect of Christianity which could be said to be the original that Jesus taught.

    http://ebionite.com/

    and

    http://ebionite.org/

    The early Christians did not see Jesus as a deity. That came later. The Ebionites were part of those early Christians, and they were like Jews in every sense, except that they regarded Jesus as the Messiah. Unlike modern day Christianity they did follow the laws, and lived like Jesus and didn’t think of him as God. Over the centuries they became fewer in number, and their beliefs changed and evolved, and some of their beliefs do clash with the Islamic belief, but nevertheless they do regard the laws (Tanakh) as binding (unlike Pauline Chrisitnaity) and they are Monotheistic.

    Ebionites
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites

    Ebionites, or Ebionaioi (Greek: Ἐβιωναῖοι; derived from Hebrew אביונים ebyonim, ebionim, meaning “the poor” or “poor ones”), is a patristic term referring to a Jewish Christian sect or sects that existed during the first centuries of the Christian Era.[1] They regarded Jesus as the Messiah[2] and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites.[3] The Ebionites used only one of the Jewish Gospels, revered James the Just and rejected Paul of Tarsus as an apostate from the Law.[4] Their name suggests that they placed a special value on voluntary poverty.

    Islam

    Mainstream Islam charges mainstream Christianity with having distorted the pure monotheism of Jesus through the doctrines of trinity and through the veneration of icons. Paul Addae and Tim Bowes (1998) write that the Ebionites were faithful to the original teachings of Jesus and thus shared Islamic views about Jesus’ humanity, though the Islamic view of Jesus conflicts with the Ebionites’ views regarding the virgin birth and the crucifixion.[127] One of the first men to believe in the prophethood of Muhammad was an Ebionite monk named Waraqah ibn Nawfal, whom Muslims highly honor as a pious man with deep knowledge of the Christian scriptures.[128]

  • Géji

    “a form of Christianity? Hmmm based on what …according to whom?”

    Well, since Muslims profess to follow Jesus Christ the son of Mary, in addition to all prophets before Muhammad, according to Jesus Christ, the son of Mary himself, why?


    And when Allah asks: “Jesus son of Maryam! Did you say to people: ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’” He will respond: “Glory be to You! It is not for me to say what I have no right to say! If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is in my self, but I do not know what is in Your Self. You are the Knower of all unseen things.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 116)
    —–

    We do not follow Paul Mr Edwards, but the strict line of Monotheistic message of Abraham, Noah, Moses, that Jesus preached himself. The worship of the One God. Which as stated, existed even before Jesus came into being.

  • Géji

    Arianism, a 4th-century doctrine, considered heretical by “orthodox” Christian-ity, that hold Christ was merely the noblest of men and, being of a different sub-stance, not God, and not the son of God.

    @ Cl Edwards, close-assez to Islam, Muslims can roll with that, rejecting as blasphemous any divinity made of human being, animal, plant, human-hand made object, brief anything tinted with having bodily earth presence, which is precisely the reason-d’etre of Monotheism, and we can’t say the same of ‘Trini’tarianism, that includes to the equation a “human God”, and would we?

  • @Danios does your deity have a son? yes or no? its just that simple… there are plenty of John Smiths, but I wouldn’t assume every John smith is the same person.. would you?

    @Geji a form of Christianity? Hmmm based on what …according to whom? If they are a form of Christianity then you need to go back in time and apologize to the Khawarij(Whom Muhammad said were the Dogs of Hell), Murji’ah, Qadianis and all the 72 astray sects. But I find it interesting that Muslims constantly appeal to heretics maybe John of Damascus was correct?

    “Unitarians adhere to strict monotheism” According to??????? oh You..well who am I to dare disagree then Geji has so declared.

    I find it also funny Muslims appeal to Arianism, when Arius believed Jesus was separate semi-Divine being from God…thus Arianism is not Monotheistic. There was never a argument in early Christianity over weather Jesus was a mere mortal Prophet or God..that’s revisionist history at it’s worst.

  • Géji

    C.L Edwards Says: “Correction; the reasons why Christians should rightly say the god of Islam is not the same as the God of Christianity is because unlike Allah of the Quran, God exists as a Trinity of three persons Father Son and Spirit, one of those persons who is the Son of the Father, incarnated as a man so that He could to die for the worlds Sins.”

    @C.L Edwards

    Well here is a form of Christianity that reject your conception of God as well.

    Unitarianism Christianity:

    Is a Christian theology, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being. Thus, Unitarians adhere to strict monotheism, and maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, but not God himself. For most of its history, Unitarianism has been known for the rejection of Protestant doctrines of Trinity and original sin.

    So should Christians rightly say that the God of Trinitarianism Christianity is not the same “god” as the God of Unitarianism Christianity?

  • Danios

    @ C.L. Edwards:

    I already responded to your very weak argument here. Relevant part:

    Spencer can’t tolerate the idea of “mutual understanding” with Islam, and therefore argues that there is “hardly a promising ground for mutual understanding” since Muslims reject the Trinity as blasphemy. Well, so too do Jews regard the Trinity as blasphemous. In fact, in Spencer’s own Bible it says that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for this blasphemy:

    John 10:31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,
    10:32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
    10:33 “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

    Certainly, Jews continue to consider the Trinity to be blasphemous: Rabbi Shraga Simmons says, “In Jewish law, worship of a three-part god is considered idolatry” and the Jewish Encyclopedia concludes that the concept of Trinity is born out of “the paganistic tendency of the Church.” Wouldn’t this also “hardly [be] a promising ground for mutual understanding?” Time and time again, we’ve seen Spencer et al.’s double standards with regard to Islam.

    Even though Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe God to have slightly differing qualities, they all worship the same God. Evangelical or Catholic Christians cannot reasonably argue otherwise because doing so would mean accepting the idea that Jews and Christians worship two different Gods. In other words, the three faiths may differ in their basic conception and understanding of God, but this doesn’t mean they worship a different God altogether. After all, even within Christianity there exist multiple conceptions and understandings of God that differ from one another.

  • Correction; the reasons why Christians should rightly say the god of Islam is not the same as the God of Christianity is because unlike Allah of the Quran, God exists as a Trinity of three persons Father Son and Spirit, one of those persons who is the Son of the Father, incarnated as a man so that He could to die for the worlds Sins. And the Bible says the Father sent the Son because he loved the world. Since the Quran says that Our Christian doctrines that we love and place our eternal hope in are…

    Untrue for Allah

    They say: “Allah has begotten a Son”. Glory be to Him! His is what the heavens and the earth contain; all things are obedient to Him. Creator of the heavens and the earth! When he decrees a thing, He need only say “Be”, and it is.

    Disgusting to Allah

    Those who say: ‘The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,’ preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder, and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become the Lord of Mercy to beget one!
    —Qur’an 19:88

    A lie according to Allah

    Surely they lie when they declare: “Allah has begotten children”.
    —Qur’an 37:151

    It doesn’t take a theologian with a phd to figure out these are not the same deities..so one has to be false and the other true.
    —Qur’an 2:116

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  • Anj

    Muslimheritage.com.
    I think you have your wires crossed sonny! Where in my text did you assume a sense of entitlement? Your example was simply childish. Let me give you a better clearer example of what I wrote.
    If I am walking down the street wearing a Jubba, beard and turban. I am in no way offending anyone. Yet if some yobbo decieded to shout some abuse from accross the road, I have two choices : ignore it, or walk across the road and have a chat.
    I don’t think either option is unislamic, unless of course you know different!!

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