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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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  • Durendal

    I would like to focus on the Mohammedan thing.For a non-Muslim it’s actually illogical and incorrect to use the term Muslim for a follower of Islam because the word itself implies that Muslims follow Gods will.Christians and Jews consider themselves to be Muslims.Also in early Christian descriptions we do not find the word Muslim used.One of the earliest is the work of St.John of Damascus from the 7th century,who viewed Islam as a Christian heretical sect.And called it’s followers Saracins.It also seems from his writings that Islam and Islamic theology wasn’t what it is today but that it evolved.It’s certainly possible as his writings were from before codification of the Qu’ran and the major hadith collections were gathered which today form the basis of Islamic theology.

  • Pingback: My God is Better Than Yours (II): Robert Morey, The Fake Doctor Behind the “Allah is the Moon-God” Theory | Spencer Watch()

  • Anj

    “But then surely sooner or later there will be a reaction because of the emotion.So why press the buttons anyway?”

    Regarding your comment to Danios.

    Those people who are pressing your buttons, don’t dictate your own morality and response. What should guide your own response if you claim to be Muslim who loves Prophet Mohammed is, the teachings of the Quran, since you seem to show a love.

    It’s your sense of entitlement that is repugnant.

    This reasoning is riduculous. It’s like saying why should a woman appear in a tank top and mini skirt in the street and then complain about being raped? The answer is no matter what the provocation, a man has clear instructions NOT TO RAPE. even if a woman sits naked next to him in his bedroom, he has no right to rape her.

    Danios

    Thank you for speaking out against extremist Muslims and their sense of entitlement. It is this, that leads them to thuggery and intimidation and indirectly imposing their own beliefs on others, something that the Muslim is forbidden from doing.

    Quite a few people here are guilty of this, and they often get a free pass.

  • NassirH

    Kevin (also known as Cassidy, Petro, Percey, Barry, etc.):

    Except you ignore that countless Muslims have similar views about Westerners; referring to us as “Franks” for example.

    Your example “Franks” doesn’t work for several reasons. For one, it was how Muslims referred to a particular racial-ethnic group, namely Western Europeans; they didn’t call other Christian groups “Franks” (for example, they called Slavs “Saqaliba”). The term Franks (al-ifranj) is more comparable to the medieval European term for Muslim Middle Easterners, “Saracens.”

    “Mohammedan,” in contrast, was used quite commonly to refer to Muslims only a few decades ago and is still used in loon circles.

    As for which waste of paper is the most violent it really doesn’t matter; in practice Muslim and Christian ethics were easily discarded on the battle field, Timur’s pyramid of heads for example.

    Your hatred of religion aside, even a cursory look at history will reveal that Westerners have killed more than Muslims. Even Samuel Huntington concedes this, saying “I suspect if you added it all up, more people have been slaughtered by Christians over the centuries than by Muslims.”

    As for your attempt to prove your theory by giving one example (Timur, who mostly killed Muslim incidentally), it’s another example of you raping the logical fallacy non sequitur. Prof. Michael Bonner writes on p. 171 of Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice:

    “…classical rules (ahkam) that prohibit, for instance, the deliberate killing of noncombatants, especially women and children—rules that the ghazis of old actually followed more often than not…”

  • Garo

    To: yasmin,Mosizzle,Hatethehaterz and Danios,

    Thank you all for your positive responses. Much appreciated.

    BTW,I knew two highly respected Islamic scholars in Jordan. I do remember they both referred to The Prophet Muhammad in their lectures as,and I quote,here,exactly the words they used:

    “Al-Rasool Al-Ameen”,translation: “The Faithful Messenger.”

    or,

    “Al-Rasool El-Kareem”,translation: “The Generous Messenger.”

    It seems to me that “Al-Rasool Al-Ameen” is just right,since it describes The Prophet as exactly as he was: A Messenger who was very Faithful to the cause of the new religion that he preached in the 7th centry(AD) Arabia.

    The first pillar of Islam which “is Al-Shahada”,meaning “The Witnessing” attests to that:

    “La Ellaha Ela Allah Wa Muhammadun Rasoolo Allah”

    Translation:

    “There is no God but God and Muhammad His Messenger”

    Please notice that Al-Shahada clearly states Muhammad as a Messenger,not a Prophet. Perhaps,that is why the Jordanian scholars referred to Muhammad as “Al-Rasool Al-Ameen”,(The Faithful Messenger) or “Al-Rasool El-Kareem”,(The Generous Messenger). Inspite of that fact,I went along with the majority of Muslims and called him Prophet. And to emphasize respectability I use “The” ahead of word “Prophet”. I hope it is okay with you all,guys. If not,please let me know. Thank you.

  • sabriyah

    I think part of the whole “worshipping a moon-god” thing can be chocked up to some Christians not wanting to share. It can be quite an exclusive club as far as theology goes, even amongst themselves. It’s hard for some to understand that a God who created everyone is everyone’s God.

  • Danios

    @ Garo:

    Thanks for your honest question. A few of the readers above are correct: the fact that Muslims say “peace be upon him” (which is a prayer) is proof that he is in fact *not* considered God. One does not say “peace be upon him” to God. In fact, after the name “Allah” Muslims often say Subhanahu wa-ta’ala (often abbreviated to “swt”) which means “glorious and exalted is He.” The difference between the two makes it quite clear in fact that Muslims do NOT worship Muhammad.

  • Hatethehaterz

    @Garo: It is an honorific. It does not connotate worship or deification, it just signifies respect. It is actually encouraged to say this phrase or otherwise generally send blessings upon all the Prophets of Islam after saying their names (including Jesus/Isa and Moses/Musa, Peace be upon them). I beleive the Prophet Muhammad himself stated as much and it is recorded in a Hadith. I’m sorry I do not have the source (the Hadith) at the moment. Perhaps another brother or sister knows it or could clarify?

  • Mosizzle

    Garo, it’s just a little prayer really. Muslims say “peace be upon you” to everyone and because the Prophet is such an important figure, we say “peace be upon him” after his name out of respect. Similarly, some Christians, after mentioning the name of a loved one that has passed away, say “May he rest in peace” or “God bless his soul” etc.

    Christians don’t need to pray for Jesus to have peace because he is believed to be God — it then seems silly to ask God to grant himself peace because he is God!

    On the other hand, The Prophet was entirely human and hence we can pray for him just like we would with any other human being. I have seen Muslims say “May Allah grant them a good place in heaven” after mentioning the name of their parents. So it’s not “excessive” reverence of the Prophet, it’s just being respectful.

    Saying “Peace be upon him” does not imply the Prophet is raised to the level of a God, because by saying that phrase we acknowledge that there is a God who we are praying to and that the Prophet is a human who needs our prayers. If he was God, he wouldn’t need any humans to pray for him.

  • yasmin

    Peace be upon him is said out of respect, it is said after the names of all messengers of God even Jesus may peace be upon him, if you know of any muslim scholars its best to ask them directly as they can reference the source of all quotes.

  • Garo

    Correction:

    Please read,”and let him associate NO one else in the worship of his Lord.”

    Thank you.

  • Garo

    Danios,

    Because I hold you and your writings about Islam and other religions in high esteem,I have to be honest with you. If I fail to do that,I will be less than an honest man. Therefore,I ask you to bear with me and be assured what I am about to comment on below comes out of caring for Islam and its adherents:

    If I did not have the opportunity of studying Islam in its own language,Arabic,and if I did not comprehend the essence of Islam as it should be comprehended,I too might have called the adherents to Islam,not Muslims,but Muhammedans. Why?

    The answer to the above “why” stems from the fact that most Muslims over use the phrase,”Be Peace Upon Him”,each time the name of The Prophet is mentioned by them,giving the impression that those adherents to Islam do worship Muhammad,not God. And they use the phrase with obvious passion. Hence,calling them “Muhammedans” is the “right” thing to do.

    Furthermore,the quote you have quoted Abu Bakr al-Siddiq,announcing the death of The Prophet is central to what I am trying to convey here. Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq’s announcement:

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

    More importantly is what the Quran says about The Prophet,and I quote,here,exacly what you have quoted:

    “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 associateno one else in the worship of his Lord.(Quran,18:110)”

    Both quotes attest to one single important point and that point is simply: Muhammad was a human being and absolutely not God to be worshiped. Why then giving the impression by Muslims themselves,through passionately repeating “Peace Be Upon Him”,each time they mention his name?

    I have not heard a single Christian saiyng,”Jesus Christ,Peace be upon him”,nor have I ever heard a Jew saying,”Our Prophet Moses,Peace Be Upon Him.”

    Since the Quranic Surah 18:110 quoted above clearly stresses that The Prophet Muhammad was/is a human being like other human beings,why then given the extras after mentioning his name? Out of politeness? or out of exhibiting one’s piety? or might have been started by a goofy Imam and became unwritten requirement,yes or no?

    I raise these questions out of genuine caring,not criticizing for the purpose of belittling Islam and Muslims,among whom I lived and with whom I worked for more than 20 years.

    Any helpful and constructive comment will be much appreciated.

  • Hatethehaterz

    @livingegine: ” insulting your mother, or your profit, and you retaliate with physical violence, I am entitled to justice under the law.
    If you don’t like this, you need to live some where else.”

    The riots you speak of happened in other countries, not the U.S. or European nations. So maybe it is you who “needs to live somewhere else.”

  • Saladin

    @Kevin
    “…I don’t see how spreading the belief that Muslims worship a moon god will create sympathy for war…”

    It will by “Other-izing” Muslims and making them out to be different
    And it creates a Us vs Them type of mentality by dehumanizing Muslims by making Muslims “Them” it makes it harder to have sympathy for “Them”

  • JD

    /\ Sorry guys the link to the John Galliano anti-Semitic abuse trial opens in Paris article is this one

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13872634

  • mindy1

    Very thought provoking

  • JD

    Does Freedom of Speech also only apply to muslims bashers because this guy going to jail for his comments against another religion so that is what it look like???? Not defending what he said or think its right but Why the double standers
    If this guy said something against muslims and he was put on trial Pam Geller and Bob Spencer would have multiple heart attacks followed by head would explode
    ————————————————-

    John Galliano anti-Semitic abuse trial opens in Paris

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13347763

    British fashion designer John Galliano has gone on trial in Paris, accused of anti-Semitic slurs against customers in a cafe in the city.

    The trial focuses on two alleged incidents in October and February. A video of a third incident led to Mr Galliano losing his job at Dior.

    Mr Galliano, 50, told the court he was a “recovering addict” and could not remember the incidents, AFP reports.

    If convicted, he faces six months in jail and a 22,500-euro (£20,000) fine

  • JD

    This kind of thing is not limited to muslims…

    ==================================================
    Indian fury over Australia swimwear images of Laxmi

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13347763

    Images of the Hindu goddess of wealth displayed on swimwear at an Australian fashion show have sparked a legal battle in India.

    The Allahabad High Court has issued notices to the Hindustan Times group for publishing the photos that show female models wearing the swimwear.

    Images of the goddess, Laxmi, were displayed on the garments.

    The fashion show attracted worldwide media attention and was held in the Australian city of Sydney last week.

    Pictures of the controversial swimwear were published in many newspapers, leading to protests in towns and cities across India.

    Protesters belonging to radical Hindu groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal took to the streets of Delhi on Monday, shouting slogans against the Australian government and swimwear designer Lisa Blue.

  • JD

    livingegine Says:
    We know that many Muslims will kill, and riot over perceived slights to Muhammad. We also know that this behavior is encouraged in their society.

    Tu quoque all you want, but you can’t blame the “Islamophobes” for this.

    ==========================================================

    That topic has all ready been covered by this site….Please read the following article from loonwatch

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/05/right-wing-yes-to-quran-burning-no-to-flag-burning/

    Small chunk from the article it self….

    When LSU graduate student Benjamin Haas planned to burn the U.S. flag to protest the clamping down of civil liberties and the right of due process for “students and suspected terrorists alike”, an angry mob of over 1,000 people came out to stop him. Haas “sustained physical and verbal taunting” and in fact received numerous death threats. Had the police not been there to protect him, Haas might have been seriously hurt.

    This video should explain to incredulous Americans why Muslims in the Islamic world get so riled up when they hear about Americans burning the Quran or disparaging the image of their prophet. The U.S. flag is not just worth its material value (a piece of cloth) but rather has far greater symbolic value: burning it is a symbolic assault on one’s American identity. It’s a purposeful provocation. Likewise, the images of Muhammad were not “just cartoons”; they were a symbolic affront to their Islamic identity, a purposeful provocation and incitement. It seems to confirm what the Muslims already suspect: they are being attacked, occupied, and killed for their religion.

    The burning of the U.S. flag occurred in a certain context: it happened around the emotional time of Osama Bin Laden’s assassination. Had this flag burning taken place twenty years ago, it would likely not have evoked much reaction. But in the context of the War on Terror, the flag burning serves to affect Americans on a deeper level.

    ####FYI NOONE HERE IS SAYING IT WAS RIGHT THING TO DO HERE BUT WAS a Emotional REACTION by people over seas#################

  • @ Kevin – While it’s a fact that Iraq was not a “Muslim State” under Saddam Hussein, it’s also true that diligent effort was made to downplay or hide this fact in order to rev up the support of the anti-Muslim crowd (particularly of the Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham varieties). It was quite sufficient to point out that Hussein was a Muslim and considered the USA to be “Satan” (though the depths of his devotion to the morals and ethics of Islam may be open to question), and it was even popularly promulgated that he was an ally and supporter of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Facts never seem to stand in the way of a story our government wants to tell.

    It was George W. Bush who used the word “crusade” in reference to the invasion of Iraq.

    The Taliban may practice the outward forms of Islam (5 times daily Salat prayers, paying of the Zakat charity ‘tax’, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca); but if the reports about their actions are true, they are a far cry from the inner reality of Islam – the genuine worship of the One, and kindness toward fellow men. Some of the basic principles of Islamic morals and ethics seem to have entirely escaped them. Since those actions (if they’re true) are entirely opposed to the teachings of Islam, they can’t make “a significant case against Islam”.

    The very false idea that Muslims worship a pagan deity (like “the moon god”) is just one more arrow in the quiver of the fundamentalist anti-Islam crowd, which makes it seem entirely appropriate to invade Muslim countries – in order to conquer them militarily so the door can be opened to ‘convert’ those who aren’t killed in the invasions. As Danios has pointed out in his articles, there are certainly plenty of fundamentalist Christians who don’t hesitate to use the Old Testament ‘Divinely commanded’ conquests to support a similar activity among “God fearing” Christians today. I have personally heard a popular Christian leader proclaim that “God is a God of war”, and that no Christian should deny this. It’s no “baseless conspiracy theory”.

    As for Muslim conquerors in the Crusades being at least as bad as the Christian Crusaders, I’ll have to leave that to the historians to argue back and forth. All I can say is that all I have read (apart from bigots like Spencer and Pat Robertson) indicates that the contrast between Muslim “conquerors” and the Crusaders is decidedly in favor of the Muslims. While the Muslims may have been very fierce in seeking to repel the invaders, their mercy and kindness toward those who surrendered or were conquered stands in sharp contrast to the merciless slaughters carried out by the ‘Christians’ after they had conquered their enemies. That’s just my reading though. The real historians can perhaps argue about that.

    Nevertheless, assuming that you’re correct that the Muslims were at least as vicious as the Christians, those Christians who wish us to understand that the actions of the Crusaders did not reflect “true Christianity” should not be averse to allowing Muslims to make the same claim: the vicious actions of the ‘Muslim’ conquerors did not truly reflect “true Islam”.

  • NassirH

    Kevin = Cassidy/Percy/Barry/countless other monikers?

  • Kevin

    As for which waste of paper is the most violent it really doesn’t matter; in practice Muslim and Christian ethics were easily discarded on the battle field, Timur’s pyramid of heads for example.

  • Kevin

    First there are no ‘crusades’ Iraq wasn’t a Muslim state, if the Taliban have a genuine form of Islam that in itself is a significant case against Islam. I don’t see how spreading the belief that Muslims worship a moon god will create sympathy for war so that’s a baseless conspiracy theory. As for the crusades Turkic Muslim conquers were just as bad if not worse.

  • Kevin

    Wasn’t my first comment posted?

  • Syed

    On a side note… nearly every Muslim I know has Muhammad (or his honorific such as Ahmed, Muzammil, Mustafa …) as part of his own name. So when these bigots start hurling insults at the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – it is hard not to take it personally when your own first name or middle name is Muhammad.

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