To Win War (Page 2)
To Win War (Page 3)
Can We Win This War?
23 March 2003
Before September 11, 2001, most Americans, if imagining a
future war starting in Afghanistan, would have been satisfied to
rephrase the question "Can we win this war?" to read "Can the
economically, technically, and militarily strongest nation in the world
be defeated by a desperately poor country occupied by miscellaneous
After September 11, a well informed American might have tried to express
his uneasiness in this way: "Can the USA, as a religiously and
culturally mixed nation whose borders are porous to people and
propaganda, and which is so technologically and materially advanced as
to be vulnerable to disruption by one or several persons acting
together, be defeated by a disaffected minority of the world's largest
religion, a religion most of whose members are materially impoverished
and so intensely oriented to an exclusive spiritual realm that they
place little value on human life?"
What War Are We Talking About?
The question posed in the title needs to be clarified. Are we talking
about a war with one or more Muslim countries, a war between
Christianity and Islam, a war between haves and have-nots, a war about
the enslavement of women, a war between good and evil, war arising from
racial genetic differences, or a war against a group of power-hungry
The politically correct answer would seem to be that most Muslims are
morally good people and we are not at war with them. We are at war with
one or more coalitions of terrorists drawn from a number of Islamic
countries. Their objectives are geo-political, but they present their
goals as religious. This coalition proved its evil character by the
actions it ordered taken on September 11, 2001.
Those actions were taken, not by individuals of a particular country or
religious sect or socioeconomic status or level of education, but rather
by socially diversified individuals who came originally from several
countries and were motivated in all cases, so far as we know, by their
devotion to Islam. How those individuals were indoctrinated, and what
their relation is, or was, to the leaders who authorized the attack is
unknown. What seems to be missing is an understanding of the Islamic
religion and of how it can elicit what we regard as evil actions from
its otherwise benign adherents.
The Scope of this essay
In this essay I shall describe some threads of the very complex
problem of religious terrorism, allowing other persons with greater
experience to weave them into a whole cloth.
As a non-Muslim discussing Islam, I am dependent upon the written
opinions of others. Out of deference to the 1.3 billion Muslims in the
world today, I shall adopt an analytical but non-judgmental attitude
toward what I have learned from the literature of Islam. I shall begin
by presenting, as background, my understanding of majority religion in
the USA today.
Part I. American Religion
1. A Materialist Society.
2. America's Religious Beliefs.
3. America's Religious Intolerance.
Part II. Islam Then
4. The Rise of the Arabian Empire.
5. The Koran as the Basis of Islam.
6. Why is Islam Attractive to the Poor?
7. A Biography of Mohammed.
8. The First Four Caliphs of Islam.
9. The Military Strategy of Mohammed.
10. The Early History of Islam.
Part III. Islam Now
11. The Political Form of Islam Today.
12. Muslim Membership Requirements.
13. Islam's Exclusionary Aim.
14. Modern Professional Muslim Proselytizing.
15. The Tragedy of Islam.
16. Christianity and Islam Compared.
17. Essential Islamic Prayers.
18. Selected Questions From Today's Muslims.
Part IV. Personal Perspectives
19. The Use of the Veil, Then and Now.
20. Speculations About Love.
Part V. American Materialism
21. Intellectual Atheism and The God Problem Among Scientists.
22. Business Atheism and the Globalization of the Economy.
23. Crash of the World Economy.
Part VI. Islam in Perspective
24. Who Will Feed the Muslims?
25. The Promotion of Islam Today.
26. Summary of Key Points About Islam.
I. AMERICAN RELIGION
1. A Materialist Society
The United States has been called "religiously mixed." In addition to
ordinary religions, we have two distinct kinds of atheism, "intellectual
atheism" and "business atheism," as will be explained later.
The most important fact omitted from the description of the U.S. as
"religiously mixed" is that we are a materialist society, not in the
popular sense that we overvalue material things, but in the technical
sense that our leaders have adopted and passed on to us the philosophy
of materialism. America's practice of materialism is a major
contribution to anti-American feeling in other countries and therefore
must be considered in developing a defensive posture against religious
Materialism is a simple philosophy. It has two principles.
Principle No. 1: There is no reality except that which can be
defined in terms of the physical concepts of space and time.
Principle No. 2: As individuals, we have no obligations to other
persons except for those obligations that we accept for our own
pleasure. This second principle follows from the first.
As explained in my essay, "The Sovereignty of Science,” materialism
began in the 18th century. The leading scientists of that time suffered
cognitive dissonance between the beliefs of the many religious sects
which then existed and their own scientific discoveries. They relieved
their discomfort by agreeing among themselves that religion was
unnecessary. Unfortunately, the amorality of materialism was so
attractive to lesser intellectuals, who lacked the status to question
the leaders, and to business men, who could use materialism to justify
exorbitant profits, that it has become a defining feature of Western
2. America's Religious Beliefs
As stated above, the first principle of materialism is that there is
no reality except that which can be defined in terms of the physical
concepts of space and time. Not all of us accept this limited view of
existence. Most of us believe that there is more to life than our bodies
and that some part of us exists as an independent entity in a spiritual
realm of some kind. This does not necessarily mean that there is a "God"
in the popular sense of that word or that there is life after death.
Most agnostics are prepared to entertain the existence of a Supreme
Being as a possibility, although they do not know what its nature might
It is my impression that most Americans accept the reality of good and
evil as distinct concepts and acknowledge an innate obligation to be
good. They define being good as being kind and helpful to others where
it will make a difference. They assign an equal spiritual value to male
and female. They respect the efforts of people throughout the world to
find a spiritual meaning in life. I believe that in this sense most
Americans are morally good people. This definition of "good" follows
from the fact that a civilization requires the cooperation of humans
with many kinds and levels of ability, a fact that Materialism evilly
I suspect that most highly educated Americans have abandoned all
specific religious beliefs. If they attend a church, they do so for
spiritual or social satisfaction and not because they literally accept
its doctrines. In more controversial language, although nonbelievers may
mouth the words dictated by the custom of their church, it is not the
meaning of the words but the ritual of the congregation of people that
brings satisfaction to them. It is the spiritual and not the dogmatic
nature of gathered prayer that brings a measure of contentment to
participants. I suggest that this is true of all persons who attend
religious services, regardless of their varying degrees of literal
belief in the language of the service. What I am proposing here in its
more extreme implications will require empirical justification. That is
a task for the future.
3. America's Religious Intolerance
The following news item shows the nature of intolerance among poorly
educated American church-goers and is offered for comparison with Muslim
The Washington Post (Sunday, 2 December 2001, Page A9) reported
that six pastors from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, representing
2.6 million Lutherans, had filed a petition calling for the expulsion of
Rev. David Benke from the church because he had participated in a
ceremony at a sports stadium with other religious and civic leaders
mourning the September 11 calamity.
The 10-page petition against Benke called his participation "an
egregious offense against the love of Christ" that had given "the
impression that the Christian faith is just one more among many by which
people may pray to God."
Leaders of this Lutheran Synod believe that they must not pray in public
with anyone of another faith, not even with Lutherans of other
denominations who may not interpret the Scriptures and understand God in
precisely the same way that they do.
This isolation of these Lutheran Protestants accommodates the perceived
religious needs of both the minister and his followers without impinging
upon their neighbors. Absent is any public ritual, distinctive dress, or
cross-cultural proselytizing which are found in Muslim congregations.
Protestant Americans, for the most part, begin with a non-authoritarian
Christian belief which they modify to meet their individual
requirements. This keeps peace between denominations while the rest of
us search for religious truth as it may be revealed in the future.
II. ISLAM THEN
4. The Rise of the Arabian Empire
Since the dawn of history, dozens of distinguishable empires have
come and gone, leaving, in most cases, an indelible imprint upon the
present. Until now, it has escaped attention that the religion of one of
these past civilizations constitutes a threat to the survival of Western
The Arabian Empire originated in the Seventh Century AD in the Arabian
cities of Mecca and Medina. At its maximum westward expansion a century
later, the Arabian Empire had captured nearly all of Spain and had
temporarily entered France after conquering North Africa.
What is remarkable, and what I shall explain in this essay, is how the
features of the original Islamic religion that made the Arabian Empire's
rise possible, remain today as a threat to other religions.
5. The Koran as the Basis of Islam
The religion of Islam is defined by its holy book, the Koran.
Because the Koran suffered many "abrogations," "recessions," and
"commentaries," while Islam was rising to power, the Koran is not a
document uniquely composed by Mohammed. It is a document whose present
wording was fixed by political compromise among his followers some years
after his death. Its meaning in many passages remains uncertain, despite
the clarifying commentaries offered before and since the final wording
was frozen. Strangely enough in view of its dubious origin, the finally
approved Arabic wording of the Koran is accepted as exact, unchangeable,
absolute truth by today's three dominant Muslim sects.
English translations of the Koran reveal the Koran as a mixed collection
of specific commands and pious obscurities. This is an impression that
persists whether one goes to a translation by a convert to Islam (Marmaduke
Pickthall, ed. by Watt) or to a translation by a non-Muslim scholar (J.M.
Rodwell, ed. by Jones). From a comparison of these two versions one must
conclude that, as written 15 centuries ago, Arabic was an imprecise
6. Why is Islam Attractive to the Poor?
Why is the religion of Islam attractive to the poor? The answer
seems to be that this religion promises eternal reward or punishment,
which are described in easily understood terms of the physical pleasures
and pain experienced on this earth. In return for admission to heaven,
all that is required is total belief in what the Koran says and
obedience to the rules of Islam, plus the recitation of prayers at five
scheduled times throughout the day, plus a month of daytime fasting each
year, along with a pro forma repentance for sins, and a
once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca, if one can afford it.
7. A Biography of Mohammed
The Islamic historical material of this essay was abstracted largely
from H. G. Well's Outline of History (1940 edition); Lynn
Thorndike's A Short History of Civilization (1936 edition); and
The Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th (1929) edition, Vol. 4, under
"Caliphate", pp 600-611, and Vol. 15, under ”Mohammed", pp 646-658.
Mohammed was born in Mecca in poverty. At age 25 he married a wealthy
widow, who protected him politically until she died 25 years later.
At age 40, Mohammed began quietly preaching monotheism. Up to that time
he had been, to all appearances, an undistinguished man-about-town.
Mecca was a trading and pilgrimage oasis, unified by the presence of the
Kaaba building, the cornerstone of which is a meteorite which ruled over
the 300 tribal gods of Arabia.
As the opposition of the town fathers grew against his monotheistic
heresy, Mohammed pondered an offer from the Jews and Christians of
Medina, 200 miles to the north, to preach monotheism there. After
preliminary negotiations, he dispersed his few followers geographically
for their safety. Finally, to escape immediate assassination for being a
threat to the economy of Mecca, he fled at night with one remaining
friend to Medina, arriving on September 20, 622 AD.
This flight, known as the Hegira, marks the beginning of the Muslim
calendar. Thenceforth, all years were counted from 622 AD. The
abbreviation AD is no longer used. Instead, for AD, Muslims use the
abbreviation CE, standing for Common Era.
At Medina, Mohammed gathered additional Bedouin converts, with whose
help he raided the caravans of Mecca. After various retaliatory
skirmishes, the Meccans retreated in 627 AD in what became a decisive
defeat. At that point, as a celebratory gesture to satisfy his troops'
needs, Mohammed ordered the murder of 900 Jews at a settlement near
Medina and enslaved their wives (Some of the Jews and Christians at
Medina had dared to ridicule Mohammed's version of monotheism.) After
negotiation, Mohammed signed a truce with Mecca, under which Mecca
became, and has remained, the pilgrimage center for Mohammed's
monotheism, while Medina remained its organizational center.
From Medina, Mohammed extended his power by battles, treacheries, and
massacres, as was the fashion of that day, until, by the time of his
death, he was the master of all Arabia.
During this period he was simultaneously married to multiple wives and
enjoyed the company of other women, as explained in the Koran. One of
his wives was a Jewess, Safiyya, whom he took to his tent on the evening
of the battle in which her husband had been captured and executed.
A year before his death in 632, Mohammed made his last pilgrimage to
Mecca, where he gave a benevolent sermon to his people, in which,
according to the tradition accepted today, he summarized all of the more
kindly teachings of Islam as they might apply within a peaceful Muslim
8. The First Four Caliphs of Islam
The Caliphs, or political successors to Mohammed, were analogous to
the Popes of Roman Catholicism. Like the early Popes, the Caliphs were a
mixed lot in terms of effectiveness and morals. Only the first two who
succeeded Mohammed adhered to his ambitions and carried out his plans.
The first Caliph was Abu Bekr, Mohammed's companion on his nighttime
flight from Mecca to Medina. In the next two years before his death in
634, he prevented a split between Mecca and Medina, beat down a Bedouin
revolt against taxation, carried out a plundering raid against Syria
that had been previously planned by Mohammed, and set about subjugating
the world as Mohammed had planned in 628.
The second Caliph, Omar-I, was Mohammed's brother-in-law. He took charge
after Bekr's death and reigned for ten years until his death in 644.
With the help of brilliant generals, he conquered Syria in 636 and
Persia in 637. Jerusalem surrendered without a siege in 638.
The third Caliph was Othman, a well regarded Meccan, whose interest was
directed to advancing his family and Mecca rather than toward the
expansion of Islam. In 656, at the age of 80, Othman was pelted with
stones on the streets of Medina and then murdered in his home.
The fourth Caliph, Ali, a very ordinary man, was the nephew and
son-in-law of Mohammed. Jealousies within the Mohammed harem, which had
surfaced at this point, led to the schism of Islam between the Shiites
and the Sunnis. Ali was murdered in 661 and the days of glory for
Mohammed's dream were ended.
9. The Military Strategy of Mohammed
It is a lesson of history that, if a new religion is to spread
rapidly, it must have military support. By the carnal nature of the
marital discipline imposed upon all males by the Koran and by Mohammed's
emphasis upon conquest as their raison d'etre, he ensured that Muslim
men were more unified and motivated to fight than their opponents.
The military creation of the Islamic Empire was achieved, country by
country, in a two-step process. The first step was to defeat a defending
army, which usually consisted of mercenaries or conscripts from a
decadent culture. Such armies were often easily defeated simply because
their military morale was low, while Islam's was high.
Before the first step, the enemy sometimes surrendered and converted to
Islam without a fight when they learned of the Muslim reputation. Or, as
the second step, after defeat in battle, the enemy usually converted to
Islam and become part of the Islamic army to avoid execution. The
Islamic army then moved on, gaining booty and numbers as it went.
Mohammed's religious grand strategy was well suited to his ambitions in
the Seventh Century. It makes no sense in the 21st Century.
10. The Early History of Islam
In the ensuing years, the lucrative political control of Islam by
its Caliphs shifted from family to family and from Damascus to Baghdad,
but as a religion, Islam was spiritually enfeebled. Medina and Mecca
became mere centers of pilgrim devotion.
Military expansion continued, supported by organizational momentum and
by the wealth obtained through conquest, but with very little dependence
on the initiative of the Caliphs.
As the Arabian empire grew, many centers of science and learning arose.
Brilliant contributions were made in chemistry, medicine, mathematics,
metal working, agriculture, paper making, architecture, philosophy, and
literature. Contributions in painting were conspicuously absent,
however, because depiction of the human form is forbidden by the Koran.
Students came from all over Christendom. As history is taught today in
the U.S. and Europe, the technical achievements of the Arabian Empire
are ignored as a basis for the rise of Western science after the
As the centers of intellectual excellence in the Arabian Empire grew and
prospered, supported by the spoils of military conquest, there were many
attempts at liberalization of the Islamic religion. None of these
survived because they did not engage the interest of ordinary Muslims
anywhere, or the interest of the caliphs then in power.
One Caliph of historical interest is Haroun-al-Raschid, who reigned in
Baghdad. His memory is preserved in the novel, Arabian Nights.
After his death in 809, his empire fell into civil war and confusion
until the Muslim Turks poured south from Turkistan in the Eleventh
Century and conquered both Persia and Asia Minor. This led to the
Christian Crusades to recover Jerusalem. With time, the claims to the
Caliphate multiplied and the title became meaningless.
III. ISLAM NOW
11. The Political Form of Islam Today
Now that the once widespread Arabian Empire with its magnificent
intellectual achievements and many attempted religious reforms has faded
into history, all that remains of Islam politically is the sexually
primitive religion of the common people, as frozen in the Koran and
practiced today by three major sects, Sunnis, Shiites, and Wahhabi.
These sects are distributed primarily among Islamic countries and seem
capable of unified action only if called to a holy war (Jihad). Those
countries where Islam is the only religion seem determined to keep out
all other religions.
12. Muslim Membership Requirements
With the assistance of his apostles, Mohammed created in the Seventh
Century the following system of psychological involvement. To attract
and hold believers, this new religion established certain belief and
behavioral obligations. Because they are tied inviolably to the Koran,
they have never been changed. As a Muslim today,
One must believe that Allah is the only God and that Mohammed is
His final prophet.
One must believe that the Koran as written in Arabic contains
exact, unchangeable, and absolute truth. There is only one version of
the Koran, although there are differences of opinion as to its
meaning, which are stoutly held among the three major sects. This
claim to unity despite diversity somehow seems to lend authority to
each of the sects.
One must engage in public ritual in the form of daily prayer,
praising Allah and asking forgiveness. This must be performed at fixed
times while prostrated, if possible, toward Mecca. This ritual
provides mutual assurance to Muslims of the importance of their
mission. Public prayer operates on the psychological principle that
when a brain is busy expressing one idea, other, differing thoughts
cannot easily enter.
One must wear distinctive clothing. The turban for men keeps the
visual brain channel active with assurance that there are many others
who agree that Muslims are doing the right thing and allows each
Muslim to know who his co-religionists are.
One must engage in public self-discipline in the form of daytime
fasting from food, drink, and sexual intercourse, with prayers and
alms-giving throughout a fixed month each year. This group
psychotherapy allows Muslims to feel virtuous and free of guilt.
One must make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if
one can afford it. This helps unify Islam as a world-wide religion and
raises the individual's self esteem.
One is encouraged to engage in proselytizing to ensure growth of
the religion. This provides a service opportunity for those followers
who might prefer to serve Allah by the power of persuasion rather than
One must believe that it is Islam's role, as revealed in the
Koran, to conquer or convert the entire world and to exclude all
non-believers by converting or killing them as soon as power to do so
is attained in any country. Historically, in its military expansion,
Islam bypassed strong religious centers, temporarily requiring only
allegiance and a tax from them. In Muslim military conversions,
"belief" was defined by enforceable behavior, i.e., by what one did
and said, but not by what one thought.
One must believe in inescapable eternal reward or punishment which
will be decided on the final day of judgment, with no possibility of
purgatory or limbo. This binary outcome is a powerful disciplinary
device. Repeatedly, the Koran says that those who reject Islam,
including all infidels, will be damned. The message of Islam is that
"you are either with us or against us." There is no willingness to
compromise. Islam will remain a belligerent religion until it has
conquered the world. Its finality of judgment is the ultimate threat.
One learns that Allah is "all merciful." Any sin will be forgiven
if one confesses and begs forgiveness. But who can know whether a
lapse in ritual will be judged to be mortal or venial? Thus, the need
for last-minute forgiveness for all possible sins, ties tightly to
Islam all sinners, both great and small, quite aside from the other
social and psychological bonds enumerated above. The uncertainty of
one's fate results in constant fear if one has an inclination to think
Because of Islam's emphasis on the religious aspect of life, the daily
work one is employed to do to earn a living tends to become of lesser
importance than religious protocol. Since Islam offers no direct reward
for diligence on the job, indolence may be a temptation for devout
Muslims, and may explain, in part, its popularity among the poor.
These behavioral requirements supplement one another. Because they are
public, they are also psychologically coercive. Individually, they
cannot be ignored without encountering social pressure from friends and
the expectation of eternal damnation. They are an inseparable package.
The fact that its membership requirements include the idea of a deity
makes Islam a religion, but are its objectives "religious" as the term
is used by other religions? Islam might be better described as a plan
for the military discipline of its membership, rather than as a search
for understanding of one's self and the universe.
13. Islam's Exclusionary Aim
Islam, by the unalterable word of the Koran, calls for the
pre-emptive killing of infidels (all those with another religion) lest
their beliefs seduce the Islamic faithful. Moreover, in the absence of
any likely reward in this world, this poor-man's religion has promised a
reward in heaven for the killing of infidels, thus leading to suicidal
As shown by the attack of September 11, 2001, some strong part of
today's Islamic leadership approves the killing of individual infidels
who are living peacefully in their own homeland. It is significant that,
while the "loss of life" was widely regretted by Muslims who were not
personally involved in that killing, the attack itself was not condemned
by Muslims in general. This would suggest that the killing of infidels
who are not engaged in physical attack upon, or a military invasion of,
an Islamic country, but who are perceived as anti-Islamic, is still a
part of popular Islamic doctrine. Among Islam's leaders, the war that
was declared on September 11 is but a resumption by modern techniques of
the drive to world conquest that was declared by Mohammed in the Seventh
It seems unlikely that the idea of killing the infidel can be
selectively eliminated as an element of the Islamic belief system, even
though it is suppressed in the thinking of most Muslims where their
living is comfortable, e.g. in the USA. The logical unity of the Islamic
behavioral system renders it immune to piecemeal change. The rigidity of
Islamic rituals and laws, as frozen in the Koran, makes them vulnerable
to attack by both science and ridicule, and therefore in psychological
need of the strong affirming threat of eternal damnation to ensure their
acceptance. This is the key to Islam's strength.
14. Modern Professional Muslim Proselytizing
The nature of present-day orthodox Muslim professional proselytizing
is illustrated by the following incident, which was reported to me by a
friend whom I have known for many years. The incident took place prior
to September 11, 2001.
My friend is middle-aged and the wife of a mechanical engineer. She is
unusual, in that her life is largely devoted to physically caring for,
and mentally comforting, persons who are less fortunate than she. She
belongs to no church and has no specific religious beliefs. In this
account I shall call her B.
One evening in a small hospital near Pittsburgh, B was standing by the
bed of a patient, praying silently with her hands stretched over the
patient. A doctor came in to check the condition of the patient. He
spoke approximately as follows. "I saw you praying. Do you have a
moment? I would like to talk with you if you don't mind." They stepped
into the visitors' waiting room. It was late in the evening and no one
was there. He asked, "What do you believe?" To which B replied.
"I don’t believe in a God with a white beard. I believe that there is
something more to us than a body. I do not believe in the Bible
word-for-word, because it has been revised many times, but I accept it
as a source of holy thoughts. I pray for guidance in what I do."
The doctor said: "It is my duty to talk with you about the prophet
Mohammed. There is only one God, Allah. Mohammed is his prophet and the
Koran is his holy book. Would you like to see the Koran? May I take you
down to the chapel and show you the Koran?"
Being both good-natured and inveterately curious, B went along to the
chapel. The doctor showed her the Koran and read to her several
passages, first in Arabic and then in English. There were similarities
to the Bible, upon which B commented. The doctor pointed to the east and
said that one must face that way when praying. The doctor explained that
if you are praying for a sick person to get well, or for any other
favor, you must say a particular one-sentence prayer in Arabic five
times and then state your request. He had her practice the prayer in
My friend's proselytizing doctor gave her another doctor's name and
telephone number and said she should say to him that she had been sent
by the doctor to whom she was now talking. She was told that the doctor
to whom she was referred would give her a copy of the Koran and be glad
to answer all her questions.
The entire interview in which B had the doctor's exclusive attention in
the chapel took about an hour. They amiably discussed many topics. B
thanked the doctor for his kindness. She never contacted the second
doctor, for, as she explained to me, she would have been in trouble at
once because she knew that Muslims demean women, and that is where she
would have begun the discussion. Also, she knew she would disagree
because she does not believe in eternal damnation, which, she had
learned, is an article of Islamic faith.
Most Muslims come to the U.S. to escape poverty in their homeland, and
they bring with them their religion. They are not likely to have
technical skills, but their training in word manipulation often leads
them to seek positions using memory and linguistic skill. Many end up as
hospital residents where they can practice medicine depending on book
learning. The pay is good, the position is respected, no previous
clinical experience is required, and there are many opportunities for
proselytizing. Those proselytizers who occupy professional positions are
above average in intelligence and should not be confused in this respect
with the typical U.S. Muslim.
Moreover, professional proselytizing, as described above, should not be
confused with the more insidious and persistent proselytizing that takes
place between two friends when, typically, a Muslim's conscience is
bothered by believing that her Christian co-worker must go to hell
despite the fact that she is a morally good person. For this situation
there can be no escape if the Christian prefers her own religion.
15. The Tragedy of Islam
Being raised in an orthodox Islamic country today limits the future
prospects of children. They can become Islamic priests who rule on
questions not covered clearly in the Koran and on questions arising
outside the Koran, or they can become docile believers, or political
leaders. Their choice depends upon their intelligence and other
personality traits. In many of the Islamic countries children cannot
become scientists or engineers because the basics of such careers are
not taught in the children's schools.
Mohammed could not have foreseen the coming of science and, with it,
world overpopulation. Without science and technology, Islam remains
committed to poverty and violence in those countries where Islam is the
only religion. The tragic aspect of today's Islam is that, while its
political leaders are intelligent and recognize terrorism as a powerful
weapon that might destroy the technological West as a finely tuned
economic machine, these leaders evidently do not foresee that Islam has
too few technologists to maintain the technological productivity in food
and everything else, to which the world is now committed for its
survival because of present population density.
16. Christianity and Islam Compared
Christianity was founded by peaceful persuasion by Jesus and his
disciples. (Because of his unprecedented ability to perform psychic
miracles, he was regarded by himself and his disciples as the "Son of
God", i.e., as having some special relation to God.) Islam, on the other
hand, was founded by military conquest by Mohammed, who declared himself
to be God's final prophet, with Jesus being merely a recent Jewish
prophet, and all Christians being infidels who are doomed to hell unless
converted to Islam.
Mohammed believed that his God was singular. Christians believe there is
only one God but that he has three personalities, Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost. It now appears that Islam's gravest deficiency is its lack of a
feminine principle, which is supplied in Christianity by the doctrine of
the Trinity, with Mary as the mother of the Son of God. Without feminine
love, Islam remains a religion fostering male aggression and military
conquest as planned by Mohammed.
Christ's Gospels are four differing accounts of His life, written by His
apostles from memory some years after His death. On the other hand, the
Koran was sent as orders from heaven to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel,
one chapter at a time while Mohammed was in a trance state, and then
altered before and after Mohammed's death, and argued about ever since.
An important feature of Christianity was that it matured to a stage
where it allowed the nurturing of science and, with some reluctance,
accepting it. Orthodox Islam, today, still refuses to accept natural
science as a reality to be dealt with.
While comparing Christianity with Islam, it should be mentioned that
Islam has no musical tradition (Answer 580 from "www.ask-imam.com")
"Music is expressly prohibited in many Ahaadith. Among the dominant
purposes of our beloved prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) was to
destroy musical instruments. (Mushkat vol. 2). and Allah Ta'ala Knows
Best." The composition of music is generally regarded as the second
great achievement of European Civilization.
Christianity took its rules of morality from the Ten Commandments as
revealed to Moses, which, on the whole, appear to be rather admirable.
All rules of Christian behavior flow from these few precepts and from
Christ's purported behavior.
Islam tried a wholly different approach. In order to prevent the escape
of its converts, Islam instituted a system of social constraints as
described in Section 12. These, in turn, required detailed instructions
for behavior in every possible action-demanding situation. However, the
Koran and its interpreters could not foresee the future, and Moslem
priests have been kept busy offering advice ever since. See below under
Section 18 "Selected Questions From Today's Muslims."
17. Essential Islamic Prayers
If scheduled praying five times a day is a good idea, why not add
prayers for the in-between activities of the day? Acting on this idea,
eminent Imams began writing what they called "Essential Prayers" for
special occasions, thereby adding to their own glory as well as to that
of Allah. Here are the English translations of three such prayers found
with their Arabic originals on the Web site "www.islam.tc."
The existence of such prayers may come as a surprise to American
"Thanks and all praise to Allah under all conditions."
Reply to a Muslim who sneezes:
"May Allah have mercy on you."
When a non-Muslim sneezes:
"May Allah give you guidance and make your children pious."
The list of situations for which special prayers have been developed
continues as follows:
When greeting another Muslim.
When conveying the greetings from another Muslim.
Before a meal.
After a meal.
Before washing one's self.
After washing one's self.
Before entering a mosque.
When visiting the sick.
For a newly converted Muslim.
When entering the toilet.
When leaving the toilet.
Upon reaching the top of an incline.
When undertaking a journey.
At first glance, these occasions for prayer and the prayers that go with
them are amusing. Upon reflection, they are seen to have another
What kind of an anthropomorphic deity would want the people He had
created by His almighty power to spend their days effusively praising
Him in such trivial ways? In early Islam the leaders' answer to this
question might have been as follows:
"Having found the true religion, let us not take a chance that our
people might think wrong thoughts. We must keep them busy thinking
about the true religion so that their minds cannot wander dangerously.
After all, there is not much else for them to think about."
In the Twenty-first Century, in the United States, this answer does not
suffice. The Christian religion in various versions is everywhere,
waiting to be compared to Islam. The country is immersed in a
technological civilization which praises change and new ideas. We all
see television and the World Wide Web. We are not isolated individuals
in the Seventh Century. Examples of fraud in leadership are everywhere.
Any thoughtful Muslim must have asked himself "Why might Allah want us
to spend time saying these childlike prayers when there are so many
useful things that need to be done to help people?" One purpose that
might be served by these prayers is to fill the mind of the one praying
so that he has no time to think for himself. Guided prayer is soothing
to a lazy brain.