Islam Versus Judaism and Christianity: some observations
by Ariel Natan Pasko
The Islamic barbarians, or Isalmo-fascists, or whatever you call them, are running rampant in the world. Western civilization is under attack at every gate. Suicide bombings, televised beheadings, and mega-terror attacks like what occurred to the Twin Towers and Pentagon in America, the Bali blast, and the train attack in Spain not long ago, have become increasingly regular events.
Yet, though Islam portrays itself as the "religion of peace" and the successor of Judaism and Christianity, it rejects much of Western civilization, and through it's violent attacks, sees itself on the march toward victory.
Let us look at some salient points...
In the philosophy of religion, all three, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are considered "revealed" religions, i.e. religions of revelation, G-D revealing Himself to man.
In Judaism, The G-D of Israel has revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the biblical Patriarchs. Then, to the entire nation of Israel in the story of the Exodus from Egyptian slavery, culminating in His revealing Himself and His Laws, "The Ten Commandments," at Mt. Sinai.
In fact, the entire forty-year miraculous journey in the desert, on the way to the "Promised Land," is a process of G-D revealing Himself to the nation of Israel. This entire event (and the earlier history of the Patriarch's encounters with the divine), are recorded in the Torah by the head of all prophets, Moses.
Throughout the next 1,000 or so years, through continuing divine revelation, numerous prophets wrote down the continuing experiences of the nation of Israel in their interactions with their G-D, culminating in a body of writings, what is called today the Hebrew Bible, or what Christians call the Old Testament. The earlier rabbis continued explicating the Hebrew Bible's laws and ethics, and wrote down their conclusions in the Talmud; later rabbis continue this process.
The founders of Christianity fully accepted the truthfulness of the Hebrew Bible; in fact, their own religion demands it. Christianity is based on the revelations and promises of G-D as put forward in the Hebrew Bible.B
ut whereas Judaism states that the era of prophecy ended with the close of the Hebrew Bible, Christians see it continuing several hundred years, until the coming of their messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
Judaism never accepted the "messiahship" of Jesus, and Jews still await their messiah's arrival. Stories of Jesus' life, trials and tribulations, and death, are recorded in the Christian Testament, or what they call, the New Testament. For Christians it's sort of a bible - part II.
Not so with Islam...
The Muslim "prophet" Mohammed, made a complete break with the biblical tradition in writing the Koran, he claimed they were his revelations from the god Allah, through the angel Gabriel to him.
Unlike Christianity, which based itself on the Hebrew Bible for legitimacy, Islam saw no need to and in fact argues that Jewish scholars corrupted the Hebrew Bible.
The Koran repeats in variant form, many of the biblical stories, only with the twist that now the "community of believers," i.e. Muslims, are G-D's people, rather than the Children of Israel. The Koran also incorporates into itself stories from the Christian Testament about Jesus. Thus, claiming to be the "final" revelation.
This, along with the claim that Mohammed is the final prophet, to reveal G-D's - or in this case Allah's - will, gives Islam its successionistic triumphalism. This directly impacts on Islam's stance toward the rest of the world today.
Interestingly, there are differences between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in who is an adherent to the respective tradition, and how one converts.
For Judaism, there are two elements, what I would call biological-genetic, or the national element, and spiritual-theological, or the religious element. First and foremost, Jews are a nation, with a language, a homeland, a culture, a history and a shared sense of destiny.
One is born Jewish, or one converts. According to Halacha or traditional Jewish Law, the child of a Jewish mother is Jewish, i.e. biological descent. To convert, there is a process, an ideological element, belief in the G-D of Israel. One then needs to study, accept the truthfulness of the Torah and make a commitment to keep the Mitzvot-G-d's Commandments to the Jews.
As the biblical Ruth in her conversion process told her mother-in-law Naomi, "Your people shall be my people, and your G-D shall be my G-D." Conversion in Judaism is sort of a naturalization process to citizenship in the nation of Israel, the Jewish People.
Christianity and Islam have a different spin on things.
In Christianity, you merely have to "believe in Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior." Descent is through either mother or father. The children of Christians are nominally Christians, because they were baptized as an infant, although, there is a debate among Christians of different denominations whether someone needs to reaffirm his beliefs as an adult.
Christianity is more purely a "faith-based" religion, what matters most is proper beliefs. One converts by accepting Jesus and through Baptism.
Islam demands a similar "minimalist" conversion process. Just repeat, "Allah is the only god, and Mohammed is his prophet" and you're in. Descent is through the father. Which is just right for a violent and aggressive expansionist ideology.
It seems to me, that in some ways, Judaism and Christianity are more "feminine," "passive," and "victimhood" based religions. But they're also the religions that built civilization and the modern world. Whereas Islam in it's aggressiveness is "masculine," "domineering," and the antithesis of civilization. Let me explain...
Go back in time for a moment, to an unspecified past. Islamic hordes go out to rape, pillage and plunder, to conquer in the name of Allah. Islam, started out very much as an Arab Imperialist Movement. In war, the men get killed and the women get raped.
If a Muslim grabs and rapes a Jewish woman; according to Islam, the child born is a Muslim, the aggressor's religion. But according to Judaism, the child is Jewish. The same thing happens when the Muslims attack Christendom. When a Muslim grabs and rapes a Christian woman; according to Islam, the child born is a Muslim.
The woman might be forced to repeat the Islamic mantra of "Allah is the only god, and Mohammed is his prophet" and be formally converted, but if the woman wants to, she can still secretly adhere to Christian belief, and raise her child as such, because Christianity is "belief-oriented".
There you have it, Islam, the imperialist ideology, with the "who is a Muslim question" perfectly suited for conquest, whereas Judaism and Christianity follow an approach that preserves identity in the face of aggression.
About civilization and its discontents...
Jews and Christians have built Western Civilization. Certainly until the modern period, it wasn't an equal partnership, but one in which Christendom ruled over the Jews in Europe.
But, since Christianity gets its entire value structure and some of it's theology from Judaism and the Hebrew Bible - aside from the Christological elements - Christianity and elements of Judaism have created the strange symbiosis, that is the basis for Western Civilization today.
In the modern period, in America where Jews were never oppressed like they were in Europe, Jews have contributed much more to the project of civilization.
I said "elements of Judaism," because true Judaism, in its fullest sense hasn't existed in the last 1,900 or so years. Since the Roman conquest of Judea - i.e. the Israeli nation - the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and ending of political independence for the Jewish people, and the mass ethnic cleansing campaign suffered at the hands of the Romans - to wipe out any memory of the Jews from their own homeland - Judaism has been incomplete.
Exilic Judaism of the last 1,900 years, is only a pale variant of a more robust national culture, that is now, with the rise of the State of Israel in modern times, starting to re-awaken and be re-constituted on it's native soil. Let me just say that True Judaism is Jewish Civilization lived in its own homeland, the Land of Israel, as an independent polity.
Without going deeper into it, it has these four elements, Torah-the Jewish legal system of civil, criminal, and religious-ritual law; Nevuah-Prophecy, Kehunah-the Holy Temple and Priesthood; Malchut-Kingdom-Government, and will be fully operative again, in the messianic era.
In the Torah - part of the Hebrew Bible - that as I said is fully accepted by Christians, the Book of Genesis (ch. 22) describes the last of Abraham's ten "tests" that G-D gave him. The story of the Akaida, or attempted "sacrifice" of Isaac, where G-D tells Abraham to take his son and bring him to Mt. Moriah - later the Temple Mount - to bring a sacrifice.
Abraham troubled by the idea of sacrificing his beloved child, yet in complete faithfulness to G-D, obeys. He builds an alter, binds Isaac and places him on the alter. He takes out a sacrificial knife to perform the ritual slaughter before sacrifice, raises his hand, and then G-D speaks to him.
G-D tells Abraham - Ibrahim in the Koranic version - "Do not harm the boy. Do not do anything to him. For now I know that you are a G-D-fearing man. You have not withheld your only son from me."
In Jewish tradition, Isaac was 37 years old, a grown man, and fully capable of rebelling against his father, but he didn't. Not only did Abraham attempt to carry out the perceived Will of G-D, but so did Isaac, in his willing self-sacrifice.
This self-sacrifice on the part of Isaac is the paradigm for martyrdom in the Jewish tradition, a willingness to give up one's life for one's beliefs.
In Christianity, the story of Jesus' willing self-sacrifice on the cross parallels for Christians, the "Isaac story" and establishes the paradigm of martyrdom in Christianity.
Islam has a different take on things...
First, in their insistence that the Torah is corrupted, they claim it was Ishmael, not Isaac who was "almost" sacrificed. This has important ramifications since the Arabs and Islam see themselves as "descendents" of Ishmael. Second, they deny that Jesus was crucified.
Besides the factual error on their part about Isaac, more importantly, I think that they misunderstand the entire message of the story. In both the Isaac story, and the Jesus story, willing self-sacrifice to keep G-D's Will, is a passive and personal act.
One may claim it's self-destructive, but it certainly isn't destructive of others, and as I said earlier, is the paradigm of martyrdom to prove one's faith in G-D.
In Islam on the other hand, I believe they identify with Abraham, the person with the outstretched dagger ready to kill. Here is the paradigm of the person who is willing to kill in order to fulfill Allah's will. But it seems the Muslims missed something, G-D told Abraham to stop.
G-D restrained Abraham's unbridled willingness to carry out His Will at all costs. Islam has perverted the message. It was only a "test". They've turned it into an ideal. Martyrdom in Islam is to kill and/or be killed, to carry out the will of Allah. It's aggressive, violent, and devoid of uplifting moral conviction.
Rapacious murder never has built society, but torn it down. Civilization often requires a bit of hard work and self-sacrifice to develop, but what type of society is it, if the sacrifice is always at another's expense?
Jihadist Islam, is devoid of any morality, only the submissive desire to carry out Allah's will of rapacious conquest and political subjugation of those in the "Dar al-Charab-World of Infidels" i.e. those not yet occupied and converted. Kill, terrorize, undermine civilization, these are the "acts of worship" for the Islamic barbarians.
One recent example, in a speech broadcast live to his people on "Palestinian" television, PA Chairman Yasser Arafat ended the speech with a quote from the Koran. "Find what strength you have to terrorize your enemy and the enemy of Allah," he said.
For those of you who know history well, you might ask, wasn't Islamic civilization very developed in the 800s-1500s?
The answer is simply yes and no. Let's look at it a little closer. After conquering and occupying everything from Spain, Southern France, and North Africa in the West by the 700s, to Iran and India to the East, the Arab Imperialist Movement began a process of cultural theft and absorption of the conquered peoples.
A process of Arabization and Islamicization took place over the next several hundred years. Arabic - the language of the new ruling class - was used in all official documents and many of the subjugated peoples adopted it and Islam - the religion of the conquerors - which allowed them to move up the new social hierarchy.
This process allowed a relatively backward and martial, desert people - the Arabs - to gain access to knowledge, technology, and wealth through their newly acquired human capital.
Add to this, the Jewish involvement in Islamdom - most Jews did not convert - and they were generally oppressed, sometimes more, sometimes less. But, through their translations of Greek and Roman texts into Arabic, Jews were a major transmission mechanism for the Arabs.T
hey provided access to the wisdom of the ancients, for the Islamic hordes. They also provided doctors, philosophers, grammarians, and scientists to the developing "Islamic civilization". It is said that the "great" medieval Muslim thinker Ibn Rushd or Avveroes, got most of his ideas from the teachings of Moses Maimonides.
For those who claim, that in the past, Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived peacefully together, don't forget, that Jews and Christians were "Dhimmis," officially bound in Islamic law as second-class citizens with inferior rights and subservient to Muslims. Let me point out, that eras of "near equality," occurred only in a few places, for short periods of time, during a 1,400-year "civilization". Some peace...
About the "Great Islamic Civilization," simply put, all the available knowledge - scientific and otherwise - was assimilated into Islam, giving it its temporary dynamism. Once the process was complete, Islam ran out of steam and began to decay, a process partially described by then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad in his keynote speech to the meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Malaysia not long ago.
"The early Muslims produced great mathematicians and scientists, scholars, physicians and astronomers etc. and they excelled in all the fields of knowledge of their times, besides studying and practicing their own religion of Islam...
At the time the Europeans of the Middle Ages were still superstitious and backward, the enlightened Muslims had already built a great Muslim civilization, respected and powerful, more than able to compete with the rest of the world and able to protect the ummah [nation] from foreign aggression.
The Europeans had to kneel at the feet of Muslim scholars in order to access their own scholastic heritage," Mahathir told his audience.
Except, that Mahathir simply ignores the culture theft and technology transfer issues, through conquest and occupation...
"But halfway through the building of the great Islamic civilization came new interpreters of Islam who taught that acquisition of knowledge by Muslims meant only the study of Islamic theology. The study of science, medicine etc. was discouraged. Intellectually the Muslims began to regress.
With intellectual regression the great Muslim civilization began to falter and wither. But for the emergence of the Ottoman warriors, Muslim civilization would have disappeared with the fall of Granada in 1492," Mahathir explained.
Here Mahathir begins to face reality. Islam simply didn't have "the ideas" that built "the great Islamic civilization." They stole them from others and after several centuries of stifling Islamic rule, as the empire settled down, with no new conquests and information acquisitions, and with religious obscurantism on the rise, they began to decay. Islam - the word in Arabic means submission - didn't build a thought system that liberated creativity and the human spirit, but suffocated it.
Mahathir continued, "The early successes of the Ottomans were not accompanied by an intellectual renaissance. Instead they became more and more preoccupied with minor issues such as whether tight trousers and peak caps were Islamic, whether printing machines should be allowed or electricity used to light mosques. The Industrial Revolution was totally missed by the Muslims," He admitted.
There you have it in a nutshell, the cause of "Muslim rage" against the West today, and it's self-inflicted. Today's Taliban, Osama bin Ladens, Jihadists, Wahhabis, Khomeiniists, "fundamentalists," etc, are no different, backwards and obscurantistic. They hate the West, they hate Jews and Christians, and they even hate other Muslims not quite like them.
The Arab and Muslim world, by self-admittance is crumbling. Although blaming outside forces is still popular, a growing number of self-incriminating "thinkers" are demanding that they look inward for the causes of their misery. Although blaming Israel, "the Jews rule the world," still satisfies many; others are beginning to blame themselves for their problems.
Take for example, the publication of "The Arab Human Development Report 2003" by a group of Arab academics not long ago, commissioned by the United Nations Development Program in Amman, Jordan. It found the Arab world lacking in three areas they deem fundamental to development: freedom of expression, access to knowledge, and the empowerment of women.
The report covered 21 Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority areas. One of the authors, Clovis Maksoud, said he hoped the report would generate debate among the Arabs to seek "objective and constructive change from within." The report said, for instance that Arab media outlets operate "in an environment that sharply restricts freedom of the press and freedom of expression and opinion."
Journalists, the report pointed out "face illegal harassment, intimidation, and even physical threats." Again, the real source of "Arab rage" we find out, isn't Israel and the "occupation," but self-inflicted backwardness.
Islam's promotion of aggressive behavior and violence - as described earlier - the opposite of the moral systems of Judaism and Christianity, has caused the Arab world in particular to create societies that breed backwardness. Violence against women - for example, Islamicly sanctioned Female Genital Mutilation perpetrated throughout Islamic Africa - is endemic in the Arab/Islamic world. Islam is an anti-civilization.
One comforting thought is that, while Jihadists carry out violence and chaos in the West, they also do the same at home. For example, they've branded Sufism - Islamic mysticism and the only version of Islam that seriously stresses moral refinement, and the love of G-D and fellow man - as "Kuffer," or heretical.
Israel, America, and Western Civilization as a whole, have nothing to fear from Islam on the spiritual-theological-cultural level of competition, Islam simply has nothing of consequence to offer.
Notice, the prize for sacrifice in Islam, is 72 virgins in the after-life, i.e. unlimited fulfillment of desire, whereas the reward for the life well lived in Judaism and Christianity, is eternal closeness with G-D (the All-Good) in heaven.
Islam appeals to the most base, material, and aggressive drives in man. Just look at the open societies in the West - even with their occasional excesses - they are vastly more appealing than the totalitarian places Islamic "anti-civilization" has produced.
But, as an imperialistic military-political movement bent on world conquest, the Islamic Barbarians are dangerous and need to be vanquished...
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst and consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko
Excerpts from Will Durant's The Age of Faith Pages 162-186 Pub. 1950
Religion and History
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