Deism Versus Islam: An Overview
by Lewis Loflin
I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe the equality of man, and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy. Thomas PaineTweet
English and American Deism, Unitarian Christianity, and Socinian Christianity emerged as heretics of the Protestant Reformation. All applied various degree of reason to the Bible producing faiths that combined reason with a Jesus centered ethical outlook.
All rejected the Trinity, Original Sin, the Elect, Nicene Creed, predestination, and other church dogma. Like the Anabaptists they all advocated separation of religion and state which is well within Christian traditions. All advocated religious tolerance.
Rational Islam and rational Judaism when embracing reason and religious tolerance are in many ways similar to Deism. The various Unitarian and Deist groups because they reject the Trinity are sometimes accused of being Muslims (Turks) or Jews.
While there is an indirect Muslim influence, we reject many of the cultural aspects of Islam in regards to religious freedom, separation of religion and state, and placing blind revelation over reason.
It's time to end the confusion on these related, but different groups. There is no theological reason why any of these groups would be enemies. Mix in other elements, it's often religion that is used to cover-up unrelated political conflicts.
Deism is not this disinterested creator that made the world and went away that Voltaire invented. I define true Deism as the use of reason over revelation. While Deism evolved from Christianity in opposition to its violence and intolerance, it never sought to destroy it or any other faith. Once exported to France and stripped of its theistic roots would become violent atheism. Deism is not a church or religion and has no clergy or organization, but often a submerged component of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. That's why this website doesn't seek converts or recommends any "church."
The fact is as a classical Deist I agree 100% with the core beliefs of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity:
1. belief in the existence of a single supreme God
2. humanity's duty to revere God
3. linkage of worship with practical morality
4. God will forgive us if we repent and abandon our sins
5. good works will be rewarded (and punishment for evil) both in life and after death.
No Christian, Jew, or Muslim could deny these beliefs. This is pure monotheism and the individual has a direct relation to Allah and we answer to God in this life and the afterlife. That direct relationship transcends religious institutions that claim to represent Allah, but are often power hungry men and their collective cultural political baggage. This is as Thomas Jefferson referred to "the deism of the Jews..." This is God the Father of Christianity and Judaism, Allah in Islam. (Yes they are all the same.)
The word Deism comes from Latin Deus, meaning God. As a classical Deist I have no problem celebrating Christmas or the Five Pillars of Islam. My prayers are to God alone. I'll treat all the Prophets with respect, but they are still just men and must answer for their actions just like we do. I will stress that Deism has no dogma and this is just a general outline.
I will not use this constant salutation (PBUH) for Mohammad. I'll also use Allah the Arabic word for God in some places. (This will upset a lot of Christians.) It should be remembered that by tradition Jews and Arabs are both the children of Abraham. Arabs trace their line through Ishmael, the son of Hagar. See Genesis 16:1, 21:14, etc.
There is nothing new at all in Islam clearly being borrowed from the Christians and Jews that once inhabited most of the Arabian peninsula and later exterminated. (Medina at the time was over half Jewish where Mohammed lived for eight years.) Whoever a man named Mohammed (570-632 A. D.) was, he never wrote the Koran.
It was written down decades after his death at a time when his followers were already killing each other for control and the faith was splitting into its two major sects, Sunni and Shi'a. The Koran has differing and conflicting translations.
Even more of a concern are the Hadiths, a collection of fables on the alleged deeds and life of Mohammed written down two centuries later. The Hadiths depict Mohammed as a thief, bandit, murderer, and rapist. The Hadiths are often used as an excuse for Muslim persecution and domination of non-Muslims. The two largest denominations of Islam, Shi'ism and Sunnism, have different sets of Hadith collections.
The Koran was likely codified in its final form along with the Hadiths about 200 years after Mohammed's death. This was done under the Abbasid dynasty (750-1258) to unify its vast Arab Empire. There's no evidence in his lifetime he even existed, the first mention of Mohammed in Arabic was material dated 60 years later. Mecca was mentioned only once in the Koran, Jerusalem not at all.
Through the Hadiths and a codified Koran written after 800 AD the Arabs created the religious context to unify the Empire. It was total system ethnic and cultural genocide of its captured peoples through a religiously codified system of rape, polygamy, slavery, and monetary extortion known as the Jizyah or head tax:
"Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Koran, 9:28-29)"
This process of religious/cultural genocide continues today in countries such as Egypt and Lebanon with the only large number of surviving Christians left in the Arab world. Their one million Jews were driven out after 1948 and they and their children make up the majority of the Jews in Israel. Thus captive non-Muslims live under what is called dhimmitude. The Jizyah is also known as the poll-tax.
- Bernard Lewis on Understanding Islam
- The Roots of Muslim Rage Part 1
- The Roots of Muslim Rage Part 2
Deism takes a very dim view of holy books and this is the reason why. No originals, questionable authorship, and a fixation on the various Founders and the political agendas of the men operating organized religion. Worse they become an excuse for robbing individuals of their God-given freedoms and act as a blueprint for tyranny.
The rest of this section will look at how Islam and Deism differ. This Deism is from the American view of the Founding Fathers, which overlapped Christian Unitarianism, not atheistic French Deism. As for word "Qur'an" I'll use Koran and for passage quotes. I'll use the MSA-USC Qur'an Database. This includes three translations side by side. I have my own copy of the Koran as well to compare to.
A seemingly enlightened Muslim website is www.submission.org. That website is based on the work of Dr. Rashad Khalifa a brilliant chemist whom claimed through the use of computers the number 19 proves the Koran is true, and claims a "messenger" status for himself. (I reject both of these claims.)
He also claims the Hadiths and Sunnas are false, and all prayer is to Allah alone. He never uses the word "Allah" but God and refers to "submitters" not Islam. His beliefs are not considered valid by Muslims in general and that got him killed. He committed heresy, a death penalty under all branches of Islam. He was murdered for heresy, which is legal under Islamic Law (Sharia).
Like anyone else that thinks for themselves or questions authority in Islam, on January 31, 1990 Khalifa was murdered. He was stabbed 29 times and was hated by Muslim extremists that were opposed to his teachings. His murderer was never caught. I never knew any of this until I checked my sources. I thought the site was a fraud to sucker people into converting to Islam by making it sound "mainstream" and more reasonable to most westerners. It turns out Khalifa really believed in this, but I don't agree with him on several points.
- Islamic Skepticism:
- The Myth of Early Islam by Lewis Loflin
- The Origins of the Koran by Ibn Warraq
- Why I'm Not Muslim by Ibn Warraq
The problem for Islam is Sharia or Islamic Law is taken mainly from these external works written in some cases 200 years after the death of Mohammad. They are not even revelation, but more akin to legends and folk stories, but under unelected Islamic jurists and clerics they dictate meaning and the individual doesn't.
Here is an important place Deism and Islam differ. Because we allow the individual to make their own interpretations of whatever holy book or other material. A Muslim visitor called Khalifa an "ahmedi". This also can refer to Muslim sect in Pakistan to quote a news article:
Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country. People in Pakistan follow different versions of Islam. The majority of the people follow the Brelvi, Deoband, or Shiite versions of Islam. There are big differences among the ideologies of these sects. The three major sects have turned against a fourth, the Ahmedi sect. They think that Amedis are deviants. They say they do not accept Mohammad as the last prophet...
I asked my Muslim visitor, "But who are you to claim they are not Muslim?" As he explained:
Yes! you are very right Islam does not allow anyone to declare a person as a non-Muslim or Kafir. But you see Ahmedis are the only ones declared non-Muslims by Muslim States "By LAW". Then why they did this?
Answer is quite simple. Islam has certain fundamental concepts, one of which is that "Prophet Mohammad(PBUH) is the last prophet and with him prophethood has ended". The Ahmedis violated this basic belief of Islam. So ultimately they ought to be declared non-Muslims by Law. Whereas all others Sunni, Wahabis, Shiite etc, though they may differ from each other never deny basic Islamic laws. So none of Muslim countries ever declares a Sunni, Shiite, or Wahabbi as a non-Muslim. Now one would say that "O God! Just by saying that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is not the last prophet...you extremist Muslims ...you declared them non-Muslims. Oh what an extremism!!!!"
A non-Muslim would be right to say this. Because he was never explained. What happens once you say that Mohammad (PBUH) is not the last prophet? Once you believe so then you would expect the arrival of another Prophet. Each Prophet supersedes the teachings of the previous prophet in chain.
So if this new Prophet comes whatever he would say will be implemented and done. So you see all teachings of Islam will be over-ridden. So just by saying that Mohammad(PBUH) is not the last prophet you will ultimately end up with denying all teachings of Islam...
This view is no different than what Christians and Jews believe, but mostly no longer enforce because most Western nations are secular. For a Deist this will present several issues. We have no prophets so we don't have that fight.
Because Deism evolved from a Protestant Christian culture that allowed a large degree of self-interpretation, theological correctness after 1776 in America was never an issue. We avoided the bloody religious wars of Europe.
This has led to the fragmentation and decline of Christianity in particular in Europe. Science has thrown doubt on many claims in the Bible in particular in relation to miracles and general decline in gross superstition. Muslims are not stupid and observed how corrupt much of the West has become under these atheistic influences and want no part of it.
As a young Muslim confided in me that he loved Islam, but is dumbfounded by the wealth and prosperity in the West while much of the Muslim world lies in poverty. Let's remember it wasn't Islam that murdered 100-200 million people in the 20th century by secular philosophy. Instead of calling them "Almedi" we called them "enemies of the people." The Deism of France led directly to the Communists and Nazis. Who are we to call Muslims barbaric?
Can Islam have a Reformation?
One desire of many in the West is to reduce Islam to a benign form of Deism along the model of France, or override it with secularism. The Protestant Reformation started under Martin Luther led to disasters such as the 30 Years War that killed millions and devastated Europe. Worse for Christianity in general it weakened the entire institution. Anyone that attempts to reform Islam usually ends up dead or in hiding.
I'm against the kind of secularization that is practiced in the West being used in Islamic countries. The result is they often adopt violent secular philosophies such as fascism and communism. Baathism and Arab Nazism/Nationalism are two of the worst examples. This was tried in Turkey under Ataturk and it seems to have failed. I'm very fond of the Turks myself and didn't want to see this happen. Now they are electing Islamists. The other result is what happened in Turkey. Reform is not about just secularizing, but living in a balance between God and reason.
Deist View of God and limitations
Of utmost importance in Deism is free will. Man has the ability to chose good from evil, something Christians deny and some Jews and Muslims agree with. Deism rejects the Christian/Jewish idea of a personal god that constantly meddles in every affair and has everything planned in advance. (prophecy)
If God controls everything, how could we be held responsible for God's actions? This is a very important point to consider. If things go badly for Jews, Christians, or Muslims, they often see it as punishment for something. This leads to paranoia, fundamentalism, and extremism. Instead of improving their condition on their own, they lash out at non-believers and each other. Deists also avoid the fatalism and "victim hood" mentality of our sister faiths. Of course God cares by giving man the ability to do better.
While Unitarians derive belief in God from the Bible, they reconcile this with science. A Deist bases belief in God on science, or how complex, etc. nature is. (Also note that traditional Deism and Unitarianism have no clear dividing line.) This is what Christians often call "Creation science."
A Deist observes the glory of Creation and the universe as the work of God, Christians, Muslims, etc. attribute nature and creation to God. They see the universe as created by God because their holy books say so. A Deist see nature as proof God that exists. (Being careful not to confuse creation with the Creator.) Here is an example of the use of reason.
Nature as I use it is the material world. The planets, solar system, chemistry, biology, etc. Much of it human science still doesn't understand even today. Nature through natural processes can not build a supercomputer, but man can. There is no scientific proof nature (or natural processes alone) can create life from dead matter any more than it can create a supercomputer, Mac truck, or a transistor radio.
Man, even with all our science today, can't create life from dead matter, nor can we demonstrate in the laboratory any natural mechanism to do so. (I'm sure the militant atheists are screaming at this point, e-mail me with verifiable scientific proof I'm wrong.) Even if we some day do, there's still no proof nature alone accomplished this. Thus it's reasonable to assume a power greater than man or nature did. That is God.
Deism has one bad failure in that reason by itself doesn't create morality. Many come to Deism to attack other religions, claiming getting rid of revealed religion will make the world a wonderful place. Need I remind them of the secular horrors of secular fascism and communism? Why the French Revolution based largely on atheism and reason alone produced beheadings and terror, and why the American Revolution based on reason and God succeeded? (Reason in this context overlaps with classical Christian humanism.) It's only reasonable we look back into history and tradition and accept the good and discard the bad and obsolete.
Deists don't see God as the often vindictive and cruel tribal god of early Judaism or Islam. The universe operates as God designed it. Evolution works as God designed to work, with limited intervention from God. (Some Deists dispute this, we are allowed to disagree.) Deists see no conflict between God and science.
Deist/Unitarian origins in Islam, Judaism
Deism in various forms certainly existed in Hellenistic Judaism prior to the 1st Century. These diaspora Jews exposed to Greek philosophy tried to reconcile God with reason and science. They became less ritualistic, gained converts, God became more universal. One side effect was Gnosticism, mysticism and asceticism. (Christianity, etc.) For more on this see Adolf von Harnack and Philo of Alexandria Islam went in similar directions once it militarily conquered vast Christian regions.
Learning under the Abbasid dynasty (750-1258) A number of medieval thinkers and scientists living under Islamic rule played a role in transmitting Greek, Hindu, and other pre-Islamic knowledge to the Christian West. They contributed to making Aristotle known in Christian Europe.
In addition, the period saw the recovery of much of the Alexandrian mathematical, geometric, and astronomical knowledge, such as that of Euclides and Claudius Ptolemy. These recovered mathematical methods were later enhanced and developed by other Islamic scholars, notably by Al-Biruni, and Abu Nasr Mansur. The word algebra is Arabic in origin.
Medicine was an area of science that advanced particularly during the Abbasids' reign. During the ninth century, Baghdad contained over 800 doctors, and great discoveries in the understanding of anatomy and diseases were made. The clinical distinction between measles and smallpox was discovered during this time. The great philosopher Ibn Sina (known to the West as Avicenna) produced treatises and works that summarized the vast amount of knowledge that scientists had accumulated, and is often known as the father of modern medicine. The work of him and many others directly influenced the research of European scientists during the Renaissance and even later.
Three speculative thinkers, Al-Kindi (801-873), Al-Farabi (870-950), Avicenna (980-1037) Ibn Sina in Arabic combined Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism with other ideas introduced through Islam. To quote Islam's Lost Heritage by Jahed Ahmed, (Note that I edited this.)
One of the prime reasons attributed to Muslims' intellectual enrichment during middle ages is the substantial impact of Greek rationalistic Philosophy on Muslim intellectuals. During seventh and eighth centuries, Islamic empire was expanded from Spain to Persia, and Muslims gained access to works of such great Greek thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Pythagoras, Archimedes and Hippocrates.
Consequently, the core of Greek science, literature and philosophy fell into the hands of Muslims...It was the infusion of this knowledge into Western Europe, historians say, that fueled the Renaissance and the scientific revolution. (Ref. The New York Times, "How Islam Won, and Lost, the Lead in Science", by Dennis Overdye on 10/30/2001.)
As a result of the influence of Greek philosophy, the vast majority of the Muslim intellectuals of the Middle Ages preferred reason over faith as a guiding philosophy. Such groups of rationalistic Muslim thinkers of the time were known as Mutazilites. In an article titled "Muslims and the West After September 11 published in Washington Post, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy has the following to say about those Mutazilites:
"Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because there was within Islam a strong rationalist tradition, carried on by a group of Muslim thinkers known as the Mutazilites. This tradition stressed human free will, strongly opposing the predestination who taught that everything was foreordained and that humans have no option but to surrender everything to Allah.
While the Mutazilites held political power, knowledge greatness...in the twelfth century Muslim orthodoxy reawakened, spearheaded by the cleric Imam al-Ghazali. Al-Ghazali championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. He refuted the possibility of relating cause to effect, teaching that man cannot know or predict what will happen; God alone can. He damned mathematics as against Islam, an intoxicant of the mind that weakened faith.
Islam choked in the vice like grip of orthodoxy. No longer, as during the reign of the dynamic caliph al-Mamun and the great Haroon al-Rashid, would Muslim, Christian, and Jewish scholars gather and work together in the royal courts. It was the end of tolerance, intellect, and science in the Muslim world. The last great Muslim thinker, Abd-al Rahman ibn Khaldun, belonged to the fourteenth century.
It's interesting to note the Mutazilites were attacked by the left (atheists, agnostics, etc.) and the right (religious fundamentalists and traditionalists). I'm often attacked by both sides myself on this issue. There's also some debate as to exactly what the Mutazilites actually believed.
Destruction of Baghdad ended most Muslim science and reason
Many historical accounts detailed the cruelties of the Mongol conquerors. The Grand Library of Baghdad, containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed. Survivors said that the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river. Citizens attempted to flee, but were intercepted by Mongol soldiers who killed with abandon. Martin Sicker writes that close to 90,000 people may have died (Sicker 2000, p. 111). Other estimates go much higher. Wassaf claims the loss of life was several hundred thousand.
Ian Frazier of The New Yorker says estimates of the death toll have ranged from 200,000 to a million. The Mongols looted and then destroyed. Mosques, palaces, libraries, hospitals, grand buildings that had been the work of generations,were burned to the ground. Baghdad was a depopulated, ruined city for several centuries and only gradually recovered some of its former glory. (Ref. Wiki)
The other important center of Islamic learning was Spain and we should note the great Jewish sage Maimonides who wrote mainly in Arabic. His Guide to the Perplexed touched on Deism and he would well know the works of earlier Muslim philosophers. His works were burned by the Rabbis and the works of many great Islamic thinkers were often declared heresy.
- Islam and Science by Will Durant
- Philosophies of Islam, Greece, and the West by Turgut Ozal
- The Golden Age of Islam is a Myth
- Chronology: Early Islam
- Maimonides Versus Aristotle and the Jews of Spain
- Handbook on the History of Modern Science
- Example of Islam and science.
All of these ideas would have been passed to Michael Servetus, a doctor. The early Unitarians and Deists certainly were exposed to "Arab" ideas that forced them to confront Christian dogma. Unitarians, Anabaptists, and Deists alike faced death at the hands of violent Christians across Europe, Catholic and Protestant alike.
From the Michael Servetus Institute (http://www.miguelservet.org/servetus/trial.htm),
Michael Servetus...shook the underpinnings of the Christian faith of his time with his antitrinitarian and Anabaptist doctrines." He was murdered for his opposition to the Nicaean interpretation of the doctrine of the Trinity and his rejection to infants' baptism.
The doctrine of the Trinity rests in the belief that God is a single essence, but the essential unity of the divine nature is shared between three persons: the Father, the Son (Logos derived from Greek philosophy) and the Holy Spirit. The three persons together are God, but no one is individually God. Servetus studied Jewish and Muslim religious texts and reached the conclusion that the main dogmatic difference between the three monotheist religions rested in the Christian concept of Jesus Christ as the eternal son of God.
Perhaps guided by an ecumenical spirit, Servetus studied the Holy Scriptures in depth in which, according to him, he did not find a single reference to the Trinity. For Servetus, Jesus Christ was a man to whom God had infused a divine wisdom and only in this sense could it be said that he was the Son of God. Nevertheless, only God is eternal not his Son. Servetus' theory makes Jesus Christ a kind of prophet, and in this way brings Christianity closer to Islam and Judaism...
Here is the links between Deism and Unitarianism, Judaism, and Islam. Servetus is a hero and martyr to reason and freedom.
Reason Versus Revelation
Koran 17:36; "You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them." (Translation from submission.org.)
Koran 17:36 And do not uphold what you have no knowledge of. For the hearing, eyesight, and mind, all these you are responsible for. (free-minds.org)
YUSUFALI: And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).
PICKTHAL: (O man), follow not that whereof thou hast no knowledge. Lo! the hearing and the sight and the heart - of each of these it will be asked.
SHAKIR: And follow not that of which you have not the knowledge; surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that.
The above illustrates the typical problem with a holy books even within the religion itself. Translation as well as interpretation depend on the outlook of the person reading it. The first seems most reasonable to me. Mohammad himself clearly claimed the Christians and Jews "corrupted" the word of Allah. He said look at the evidence for yourself.
But does that apply to the Koran as well? All three have imposed death for anyone questioning their holy books. If they are true, why fear scrutiny? Christians and Muslims blame Satan (there's no devil in Judaism, Unitarianism, or Deism) and thus are not murdering you because your reasoned conclusion disagrees with their revelations (or interpretation), but were opposing the devil! In other words, they rationalize murder knowing God forbids murder and says so in all three books. They like to call it justice, a term used throughout the Koran. Sorry, it's still murder.
John Locke whom some claim was a Deist, others Unitarian, saw no problem between reason and faith as he sought to promote religious tolerance. In his Letter on Tolerance, he makes a distinction between what can be known and what must be taken on faith. In his view neither knowledge nor faith demand the use of force against persons who differ on these matters. Where reason can supply an answer to a question, there are rational methods to resolve a dispute, thus no need to quarrel. Where faith alone is the way to answer it, no methods of reason can be persuasive. Hence there is no justification for using force.
Mohammad certainly promoted the use of reason to those he sought as followers, as long as they agreed with him, otherwise you die. Jesus seemed to say the same thing in Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you..." (also Luke 11:9) We have the right to seek the truth and that can only be done by questioning that which the religion business establishment opposes. They have placed themselves between Allah and man, they are idolatry in themselves. Koran 13.29: "(As for) those who believe (in God) and do good, a good final state shall be theirs and a goodly return."
Deism/Unitarianism arose in opposition to the massive killing and terrorism between Christians. We focus on what we have in common, let the individual decide the details. It's the moral character of the believer that counts, not scriptural correctness. This problem goes on today as Sunni and Shiite murder each other in Iraq, and Saudi Wahhabism murders any non-Wahhabi Muslims.
Islam a "deistic" religion?
I have read several scholars that refer to Islam as "deistic." In the Koran Mohammad is human, performs no magic tricks or miracles. Throughout many sections Mohammad refers to the natural world as a symbol of God's greatness and power. There are similar passages in the Bible, but not as many times as Mohammad refers to "Creation." (Note this is not scientific as we know it.) See the following and be your own judge. Koran 2:164,
YUSUFALI: Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.
PICKTHAL: Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs (of Allah's Sovereignty) for people who have sense.
SHAKIR: Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand.
What do we have as evidence from Muslims, Christians, and Jews? We have holy books. How does reason play into this? Deism/Unitarianism believes in science reconciled with a belief in God. If that holy book passes the test of reason, then we may accept those parts that past this test.
Science Versus Islam
Muslim science was borrowed at first from others. Quoting Turkish writer Turgut �zal on an official Turkish government website: The scholars of Islam* contented themselves initially with translating and interpreting the works of the Hellenistic period, hence their philosophywas at first scarcely original. Later, however, the numerous translations under taken at the beginning of the Abbasid period (ninth century) provoked an expansion of thought... Will Durant in The Age of Faith further confirms this and attributes most of this to Turks, Persians, Jews, and Christians.
* Jews and Christians translated classical knowledge to Arabic.
But to pretend Muslims only "copied" the Greeks and Hindus is false. They invented chemistry, advanced astronomy, and we owe them (in the West) our modern base-10 number system and algebra. They were centuries ahead of anyone at the time. Their vast libraries and universities were the envy of the world. The West didn't catch up to Islamic science until the 17th-18th centuries and much of that was based on works passed from great Muslim scholars or preserved by them. But Islamic science has nothing to do with Islam or the Koran, which after the 13th century has destroyed Muslim advancement. Muslim scholars even hit upon evolution.
But when Muslims began to learn of the real world and science via the Greeks, Hindus, etc. something very close to Deism began to emerge as many began to place reason over revelation. When Jewish, Christian, and Persian works became well known, serious questions on the Koran were asked. Many of the Muslim scholars of that time would qualify as Deists and those scholars also included Persians and Jews. This later died. If reason and proof conflicts with Islamic dogma, it will not be tolerated. When Islam went fundamentalist in the 12-13th centuries, Islamic science died.
That is why the Muslim world today is the most backward in the world. Even with Muslims attending Western universities, they still fall behind because Islam (or any other revealed religion) destroys the ability to think freely and innovate. The want the weapons, technology and wealth the West has, they don't want the culture that makes it possible. Freedom and reason are death to mindless fundamentalist' religion.
Muslim Spain was the most advanced and tolerant society (outside perhaps the Jewish Khazars) in the middle ages. At least for a time. In Spain Christians and Jews alike were well treated and the great Muslim leaders of that time thirsted for classical knowledge. One of the greatest writers of that time was Maimonides.
Then fundamentalism set in forcing many Jews to flee and opening the door to Christian conquest. By 1492 Muslim Spain was ended and Jews and Muslims alike faced expulsion, conversion, or death. But what Muslims threw away was captured in Spain and Sicily. Great Islamic achievements, along with Aristotle, and so much more were passed back to the West.
YUSUFALI: It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all between them, in six Days, and is firmly established on the Throne (of Authority): ye have none, besides Him, to protect or intercede (for you): will ye not then receive admonition?
PICKTHAL: Allah it is Who created the heavens and the earth, and that which is between them, in six Days. Then He mounted the Throne. Ye have not, beside Him, a protecting friend or mediator. Will ye not then remember?
SHAKIR: Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six periods, and He mounted the throne (of authority); you have not besides Him any guardian or any intercessor, will you not then mind?
On the creation of man Koran 023:014,
YUSUFALI: Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!
PICKTHAL: Then fashioned We the drop a clot, then fashioned We the clot a little lump, then fashioned We the little lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators!
SHAKIR: Then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators.
Is it clots or clay? Koran 037:011,
YUSUFALI: Just ask their opinion: are they the more difficult to create, or the (other) beings We have created? Them have We created out of a sticky clay!
PICKTHAL: Then ask them (O Muhammad): Are they stronger as a creation, or those (others) whom we have created? Lo! We created them of plastic clay.
SHAKIR: Then ask them whether they are stronger in creation or those (others) whom We have created. Surely We created them of firm clay.
How many heavens? Koran 067:003,
YUSUFALI: He Who created the seven heavens one above another: No want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw?
PICKTHAL: Who hath created seven heavens in harmony. Thou (Muhammad) canst see no fault in the Beneficent One's creation; then look again: Canst thou see any rifts?
SHAKIR: Who created the seven heavens one above another; you see no incongruity in the creation of the Beneficent Allah; then look again, can you see any disorder?
Rebuttal to seven heavens at http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina40712.htm
Origin of the Koran
What about revelation? Does Allah communicate with man? Why do Deists question the Koran or Bible or do we even believe in revelation at all? To quote Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason:
Revelation when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man. No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication if he pleases...It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication.
After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me...When I am told that the Koran was written in Heaven, and brought to Mohammad by an angel, the account comes to near the same kind of hearsay evidence and second hand authority as the former. I did not see the angel myself, and therefore I have a right not to believe it...
Not everything he ever said or did is always ordained by God/Allah. But assuming Muslim claims of Mohammed are true, he didn't write the Koran, and worse, there is nothing new but borrowed from other religions. It was assembled later by his followers from all kinds of notes and writings scattered around his residence. The Koran is an incoherent mess. It can't be read in chapters, many statements are disjointed gibberish. This is why they refer to the Hadiths and Sunnahs for Muslim Law or Sharia.
As Will Durant explains nearly everything Mohammed claimed that was brought to him by the Angel Gabriel could be taken from Talmud Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. There is nothing new at all. But the Prophet claimed the other scriptures had been corrupted, he as God's newest and last Messenger sent to correct it.
To me all have been corrupted through transmission and interpretation. I'm not claiming the Koran, Bible, or Torah are false, just to be careful with these things. Put reason at least on a par with revelation. Deism for the most part relies on reason alone. Islam claims Christians and Jews corrupted Allah's teachings. Christians and Jews claim the same of each other. I claim all three are corrupted.
Ali Dashti (an Iranian rationalist) quoting his book Twenty-three Years on Mohammad and the Koran,
"contains nothing new in the sense of ideas not already expressed by others. All the moral precepts of the Koran are self-evident and generously acknowledged. The stories in it are taken in identical or slightly modified forms from the lore of the Jews and Christians, whose rabbis and monks Muhammad had met and consulted on his journeys to Syria, and from memories conserved by the descendants of the peoples of Ad and Thamud...In the field of moral teachings, however, the Koran cannot be considered miraculous...Many of the duties and rites of Islam are continuous practices which the pagan Arabs had adopted from the Jews."
Excerpts from Will Durant's The Age of Faith Pages 162-186 Pub. 1950
- Koran: Form
- Mohammed in Mecca: 569-622
- Mohammed in Medina: 622-630
- Mohammed Victorious: 630-632
- Islam and Science
He was alleged to have lived in Medina with its large Jewish population for eight years and that is where he picked up so much Judaism. He later turned on and murdered them. His wife Khadija's cousin Waraqab ibn Nawfal, "who knew the Scriptures of the Hebrews and the Christians" is where he also learned much about Judaism and Christianity. But even assuming the Koran does accurately reveal what Mohammed said, there are no originals and we can't be sure even of it that.
Mohammed was accused of fraud even in his own time, but anyone that questioned him in any manner were murdered. This brings up an important point. He was indeed it seemed a good man and honest at first. He was loyal to his first wife Khadija and loved her very much. After her death he changed from a kind prophet and honest merchant to something else or so it seems. Every time he wanted a new wife, he had a convenient revelation from Allah. He broke treaties and had anyone that questioned him in any manner killed, etc.
To me these charges seem wrong. I think they were manufactured by later Muslims to justify their evil. These charges of fraud and altering texts aren't limited to the Koran, but also the Hadith and Sunna as well. Most of this history is drawn from the later writings, and I'm wary of it. I think a Muslim or even non-Muslim needs to view the Koran alone and not mix in other traditions.
But a few further words of caution on the Koran. First, it depicts the bloody civil wars of 7th century Arabia and are particular to that time. There is also proof of tampering in the Quran and questions of when it was finalized. Here is one I found: [30.2} The Romans are vanquished... The only problem with this is the Romans (Actually Byzantines) were defeated at the Battle of Yarmouk and the Muslims entered Palestine in 637-8 five years after Mohammed's death.
It clearly says the event happened in Mohammed's lifetime when it didn't. Quoting Ibn Warraq, the earliest material on his (Mohammed) life that we possess was written by Ibn Ishaq in 750 C.E., in other words, a hundred twenty years after Muhammad's death. In this manner the Koran has the same problem as the Bible, being first an oral tradition, then written down by followers later. Many of these followers were often converts and never knew the Prophet in person. (Same problem with Christians.) There is certainly elements of truth in the Bible and Koran is why the reader must be very careful in reading them. Some Deists often reject all holy books in mass, which I believe is a mistake.
Death Penalty Under Islam:
- A public declaration or conduct that denies Islam, its beliefs, symbols or its principal actors such as statements as "I believe in gods other than Allah", or "God has a material form".
- Worshipping an idol.
- Denying the existence of God (and gods) (atheism).
- Saying the world has always existed from eternity, in such a way that it denies the existence of God as a creator.
- Saying that the world is everlasting and without end, in such a way that it could be interpreted as a denial of resurrection.
- Believing in reincarnation into this world, in such a way that it could be interpreted as a denial of resurrection.
Regarding prophet hood of Muhammad
- Rejecting Muhammad's claim to be a prophet, or denying the concept of prophet hood.
- Implying that one can become a prophet through spiritual exercise, since that would imply the possibility of a prophet after Muhammad.
- Saying that there were prophets after Muhammad.
- Cursing Muhammad.
- Questioning the perfection of Muhammad's knowledge or defaming his character, morals, virtues, or faith.
- Any clearly blasphemous action, such as burning the Qur'an out of contempt, and every manner of soiling it out of contempt or hatred. The same may also apply to the Hadiths books.
- Contradicting the positions that are upheld by a consensus (ijma) of Muslim scholars (ulema), such as saying that prayers or fasting are not obligatory, or that the prohibition of adultery does not have to be followed. Not following these doctrines does not make one an apostate, but saying they need not be followed does.
The last one is the most dangerous and this is why Islam is hopelessly crippled in trying to modernize, and why it's not compatible with western culture. One doesn't get just Allah and the Koran with Islam, one gets the whole violent medieval culture and the ruling tyrants with it. This is why they murdered Dr. Rashad Khalifa. Never mind he believed in Allah, the perfection of the Koran and Muhammad, he rejected the Hadiths and Sunnas, claiming the Koran alone should be used. He dared question authority, that is what got him killed. To quote,
After prophet Muhammad's death and as the time passed, the Muslims gradually drifted away from the laws of the Quran in favor of the man made laws derived from the books of Hadiths (Sayings) and Sunna (actions) that were falsely attributed to the prophet Muhammad.
Within few hundred years from building that great empire, the freedom, democracy, tolerance, and civilization were gradually lost as the man-made laws took over from the perfect laws of God in the Quran. It is from that time when the Muslim masses deserted the Quran that they have been defeated continuously, in every country, every war, every battle and every conflict and until our present time...
Islam today is the most violent and intolerant faith on earth and for no good reason. Muslims have lost both their greatness and reason for conspiracy theories, hysteria, and terrorism.
Today most Muslim countries produce nothing and the per capita income even of wealthy Saudi Arabia is half that of South Korea and going down. Most Muslims sit by in silence or make excuses. Religious fundamentalism has left Islam unable to modernize, innovate, or Muslims even to feed themselves. Millions of Muslims live on Western handouts while calling for the death of those that feed them. Islam needs a Muslim Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson. The alternative is continued war and conflict with every nation on earth and eventual extermination.
If there is anything factually incorrect on this page, e-mail me and I'll correct it. Send verifiable proof.
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- Mohammed the Man as Islamic Ideology
- Why Muslims Can't Build a Lightbulb
- Scientific Case for a Transcendent God
- In Defense of Classical Deism
- Europeans as Victims of (Muslim) Colonialism
- Fear and Loathing of Islam is not Islamophobia
- Exposing 'Non-Jewish Jews'
- An Overview Gnosticism
- Apostle Paul Founder of Christianity
- Apostle Paul versus Pelagius
- Topics on Religion and Environmentalism
- Modern Deist Manifesto Based on Classical Deism
- Gnosticism as Explained by Bishop N. T. Wright
- Deist Critique of the Gospel of Mark
- Religious Syncretism and Christianity
- Classical Deist' View of Religion and Its Application Today
- Taking a Closer Look at Gnosticism and Christianity
- Thoughts on Theistic Evolution and Deism by Lewis Loflin
- My Answer to a Secular Fundamentalist by Lewis Loflin
- Separation of Pseudo-Religion and State
- Environmentalism Religion or Political Philosophy?
- Why Christian Morals Need to be Rejected