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Can We Win This War?
23 March 2003
R.A. McConnell


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 Islamic tribes?"

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 individuals?

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.


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 terrorists.

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 culture.

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 be.

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 ignores.

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 belief.

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.


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 civilization.

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 language.

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 community.

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 night﷓time 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 Renaissance.

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.


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 by force.

  • 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 independent thoughts.

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 attacks.

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 Century.

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 Arabic.

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 "") "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 "" The existence of such prayers may come as a surprise to American Christians.

  • After sneezing:
    "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.

  • Upon awakening.

  • When undertaking a journey.

  • etc., etc.

At first glance, these occasions for prayer and the prayers that go with them are amusing. Upon reflection, they are seen to have another importance.

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.

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