In this series, Fr. Daniel Sysoev presents a critical analysis of Islamic doctrine as well as analysis of theological and mystic aspects of life and work of Muhammad in the framework of traditional Orthodox comparative theology. . .
Click here to read Part 2 - Muhammad
Click here to read Part 3 - Questions and answers
Part 1 - On Islam
Today we’ll speak not only about Islam as it is. Certainly, we need to touch upon this topic for so many people don’t know anything about this religion – they know something about the traditional belief, something that gives this confession only positive characteristics… We’ll speak about this too, but we’ll also speak about those particular trends and forms that exist nowadays because so many people who haven’t a slightest idea of what is going on say: “Well, Muslims make terrorist attacks, they are all terrorists”, or on the contrary: “Muslims are not terrorists because this particular Muslim does not make a terrorist attack”. It happens because people do not know the inner structure of the Muslim community, which is called ummah1 in Arabic. This religious trend we can judge only from God’s point of view.
Why do I say “from God’s point of view”? We Christians try not to have our own point of view. It is not very interesting. As one English writer once said: “You may have hundred thousand points of view unless you find the only true. Then you’ll have the only point of view – the true one”.
First of all, it is necessary to say what Islam is as it is. Very often, when people start speaking about Islam they call it a religion. The notion “religion” characterizes some religious organization, church or sect where people come together to pray and solve some spiritual problems.
Actually, it is not quite true. To our mind, Islam seems to be far from traditional religion. It is very important to remember this because our conversation often turns out to be a conversation of two deafs. When we speak to Muslims we speak about one thing and they speak about something different. Consequently, we cannot understand each other because we put absolutely different ideas to one and the same words.
I have recently received the invitation to take Islam from one very good man as well as the explication of reasons for which he had taken it and why Islam is a true religion. That man was trying to explain me that Islam is a true religion because Muslims do not smoke or take drugs, all girls are virgins, and dissipation is not accepted, that is why Islam is a very good religion and the only hope for the progressive mankind.
Actually it is not quite true, for 80% of all heroine is planted in Islamic countries. But the thing is that a man looks at the religion as a system of life being. By the way, it is a peculiar trait. If we visit such Islamic sites as islam.ru or koran.ru we’ll see that the majority of all materials represented there are devoted to the way we should build our life: articles about Arabian cuisine and market; what standards of the length of beard , underwear, whatever it is exist in shariah etc. As you see, it is an attempt to build a global system of our life based on God’s authority. In this sense Islam can be compared with such projects as national-socialistic and communist building, modern globalization etc., but not with the church – orthodox or catholic. It is a project of creating God’s kingdom in our world with the help of divine means and under God’s authority.
Moreover, a Muslim never divides religion and politics. It is very important to realize it for it is a typical trait of Islam as it is. We can imagine an Orthodox who lives, for example, in America among Papua New Guinea, i.e. among Muslims. As you see, Orthodoxy overwhelming the whole life of a man still assumes that he can live together with the order that is absolutely alien . Moreover, we know that it is a normal situation in Orthodoxy for we know that Christ’s kingdom “is not from this world”, as our God said. That is why an orthodox Christian can stay orthodox even in antichristian environment. Certainly, it is not normal for us that such environment exists, but it seems to be inevitable evil until the doomsday. As St Justin the Philosopher2 once said, “We know that the Church will be persecuted until the doomsday, when God comes back and gives freedom to all of us”. That is why persecution is a norm for us.
Why? Because we are aliens, we are representatives of God’s kingdom in this world. We feel as if we are, and actually we are spies sent to the hostile territory. Situations may be more or less comfortable, but this world is a place where we can exist, at the same time, we do not hope that this world will become God’s kingdom due to our efforts. We hope that God himself will interfere and restructure the Universe.
It is quite different in Islam. For Islam there is only service of God which is mainly realized via shariah, i.e. the law. This law overwhelms the man’s physical, spiritual and social life, it defines his family life as all other spheres of his activities. So, shariah is a global project, and what seems to be the most interesting, it does not include God Himself. Here lies a radical difference between Islam and Orthodoxy: while in Orthodoxy everything is done by Almighty God, in Islam God’s interference is subtle.
I’ll try to explain. In Islam all deeds performed by a man, an angel or an atom are performed by God – Allah. It leads to a paradox according to which a man should do everything by himself. For the reason that there is too much of God there is practically no space for the man’s freedom, and the only piece of freedom that he has is the freedom to choose and this is the only instrument with the help of which he can do anything. This is the paradox that follows and it defines the Islamic mentality.
On the other hand, a man can do everything, for example, he can make a terrorist attack and regard it as a kind deed. Why? Because that was Allah who did it via the man. At the same time, the man knows that he cannot wait for Allah’s help. Why he cannot do it? Because Allah does everything himself and you have no right to ask for anything because you are a puppet. You have only a small piece of freedom.
Omar Khayyam3 once said: “Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes, But Here or There as strikes the Player goes”. So do we, as Allah strikes go. What we see is a weird attempt to build God’s kingdom in this world but without God himself, what really makes Islam look like communism or national socialism. By the way, it is interesting to notice that Islamic countries eagerly accepted socialism. A lot of Islamic countries are social: Syria, Iraq at the time when Saddam Hussein4 was its leader. A lot of Islamic countries cooperated with the Soviet Union. The cooperation was based not only on the arms export but also on the common ideology.
Now it is necessary to define what Islam is.
From Islamic point of view, the world is divided into two parts: the House of safety and the House of war5. The House of safety is the world where the shariah6 laws function. These countries belong to the House of safety and live in accordance with Allah’s laws. Those who disobey these laws take a special place. According to shariah and the Quran7 on which shariah is based, all non-believers are divided into two groups: Polytheists and People of the Book. Polytheists are people who do not accept the Scripture authority and do not respect Creator, for example, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, shamanists, anybody. They are subject to forcible conversion into Islam or to capital punishment, there is no third option. People of the Book, in the Quran these include Christians, Judaists and Zoroastrians, have right for life. They are given the honorary right for life on condition that they do not oppose Islam, do not criticize Islam, do not preach, pay jizyah8 (tax on belief), and also obey some restrictions: Christians must wear crosses on their backs, live in one-storey houses, have no horses. There are also some other restrictions connected with life.
Jizyah generally amounted to 80 per cent of the income. Meanwhile, if a Christian was inevitably harassed as a second-rate citizen, his life was not jeopardized. This should be recognized by right, for to think that Islam demands extermination of all Christians is absolutely wrong.
On the other hand conversion to Islam was encouraged. Because Islam has no doctrine of individual freedom (we will discuss it in due time), a person and an individual will could be destroyed. According to the Quran, « Seek they other than the religion of Allah, when unto Him submitteth whosoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and unto Him they will be returned. »9 The expression « unwittingly » designates the lack of freedom, captivity, and servitude. This results in frightful statements that, for example, a Christian declaring his wish to adopt Islam in the presence of two Muslims is considered a Muslim, and whoever wishes to renounce is convicted to death. Indeed, defection in Islam means death or imprisonment for life. The latter is only applied in very few cases. Death has been and still is the most popular punishment. A recent case of death penalty for baptism was the execution of a Philippine Christian in Saudi Arabia in 2005. Another Christian convert, George, was executed in Yemen in 2004. The regulations are still active in shariah countries.
The other part of the globe is the land of war subdivided into: the House of Jihad and the House of truce. The House of war is the non-shariah land, a non-regulated community, the one to be brought to Islam. This is achieved through a Holy war, the Jihad10 , practiced in several forms. Characteristically, jihad has the form of a mission, the amicable Jihad. Muslim missionary work is called jihad. And jihad is a mission indeed, but not only that. Jihad can involve hostility, pogroms, and poisoning enemy well water. According to current interpretation offered by some Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, the so-called wahhabis11, jihad includes heroin traffic. This is why heroin is mainly cultivated in Afghanistan as an instrument to undermine enemy power. Destroying enemy manpower is part of the war, pure military tactics.
The House of war is subdivided in two categories, as I said before. First, there is the land of hostility. The House of Jihad is to be annihilated tooth-and-nail because it opposed Islam in one way or another. Every possible means could be used against such countries. They are listed among jihad rules. Accordingly, all male, and old people, must be killed, and women and children should be taken prisoners: women to be used as sexual slaves, and children to be converted to Islam under compulsion. Special treatises are written on jihad (also in Russian). The rules have been adopted in Islam since the days of Muhammad in the 7th century.
The House of truce is where Islam makes a contract with non-Islamic government. This means that Muslims can more or else follow the shariah within the non-Islamic community. This is the House of truce. Why so? Because the people, or rather the community allowing Muslims to follow the shariah is actually non-Islamic, abnormal, and thus should be destroyed and made Islamic without victimizing the Muslim brethren. A truce is therefore concluded until the whole community is reduced to Islam.
How does one adopt Islam? What should one do? In the same way as Orthodox Christianity involves belief in the Holy Trinity, the God-man, the Creation, as well as baptism and communion, Islam specifies the rules and events that make a Muslim. So there are the celebrated five pillars of Islam often confused with the six articles of faith.
The first and probably most important of the five pillars of Islam is the Shahadah. A man professing the Shahadah, i.e. confession of faith, before at least two or, better, four Muslims becomes a Muslim.
There are certain websites where one can type one’s name under “denomination”, click “I adopt Islam”, and become a Muslim automatically. For this means professing one’s faith before all Muslims visiting the Internet at the moment. As a matter of fact, however, Shahadah (the Shahid is the one confessing Shahadah, a confessor or martyr, witness) is the confession of no god but Allah and Muhammad as His prophet (recitation of the Islamic witness of faith, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God” – ed.). The statement is pronounced in Arabic though, in principle, Russian or any other language is admissible.
The four remaining pillars are to be professed too.
The second pillar is the obligatory prayer, namaz12. The third one is zakah, the obligatory charity13. This generally amounts to 1/40 of the income paid annually in the Ramadan. The fourth pillar is Ramadan14 fasting, and the fifth is the hajj, Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
Many believe that jihad represents the sixth obligatory pillar of Islam. But in strict Sunni interpretation jihad is only obligatory in the countries oppressing Islam, i.e. in the House of Jihad proper. It is not prescribed elsewhere.
How are the pillars of Islam to be described and interpreted in terms of the Orthodox Church, and in the Absolute?
(1) The first pillar, the confession of faith, is by no means limited to “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God”, adding the so-called aqidah15(creeds) containing, first, the Allah, a being never described as a person (a matter of prime importance). Islam never personifies Allah.
The question of whether Allah could be referred to as a person was once posed in negotiations between the Roman Catholic Church and Islamic ummah. It occurred that there was no Arabic term for the notion. Our “person” is rendered in Arabic as “a lad”. A person is identified with a lad … This is quite wrong and we cannot use it. One cannot refer to God as a lad! And there are no other terms for Allah as a person.
When debating the issue with Muslims, or just discussing everyday problems … Talking with a Muslim in Turkey this summer, for instance, I asked: “What is Allah to you?” He said: “To me Allah is a great power, very remote, and very obscure”.
No Muslim knows what Allah is. It is a power creating the world, giving the laws, making all things run, and quite vague. The Quran says on the subject: “Allah maketh the provision wide for whom He will of His bondmen, and straiteneth it for whom (He will)”.16 Hence the curse of Israelites and Christians believing themselves to be God’s natural or adopted children. And the conception of God as a remote power demanding worship and actually incomprehensible!
There is a conception of Allah’s attributes. What attributes? They are not just qualifications but properties that Allah himself discovers about himself. The point is whether they are compatible with his nature. Two schools in medieval Islam disputed the subject: some maintained that Allah did discover some qualities in himself, his own inherent properties; others argued that Allah appeared as he wished, keeping his substance to himself. The attributes are considered of great importance even though Islam cannot settle the issue. They are known as the 99 names of Allah.
You might have seen bead charms in cars, or Muslims fingering green beads. They count the names of Allah. The action has a magic sense though Sufis17 think it is a way to heat up one’s love for Allah. Anyway, this is evidence of borrowing from Christianity.
The attributes are contradictory. For instance, the Loving, Gracious, Beneficent – not Love but loving those who love him. There is the Speaking attribute. Among others, there is the Tyrant, Author of Evil. That is, in Islamic tradition Allah is beyond good and evil, author of both good and evil. The Quran says that, “Nor did they (the two angels) teach it to anyone till they had said: We are only a temptation, therefore disbelieve not (in the guidance of Allah). And from these two (angles) people learn that by which they cause division between man and wife; but they injure thereby no-one save by Allah’s leave”.18. Yet he makes one stray or keep straight at his will. That is, both good and evil are of him.
In Islamic view, archangel Gabriel comes into the view of Allah on the fortieth day of conception and asks what is destined for each particular infant. And Allah gives him a list of designations. Archangel Gabriel immediately assigns an angel to attach that register of future good and evil deeds to the man. In addition, the list describes one’s predestination: i.e. as a dweller in heaven or in hell. All these are attached to one on the fortieth day of conception.
More fundamentalist Muslims believe in Allah’s geometric constraint. “Prominent” Wahhabis argue that Allah can travel. He resides in the seventh heaven and descends to the first heaven on Ramadan night, the night of revelation, to hear prayers in the best possible way. So one should always appeal to Allah on the night of revelation when he is close by and listening.
Islam rejects the divine triad: several surah contest the Trinity. Interestingly, they all seem right. Conceiving Allah as the third of three, that is, one of three Gods, is an unpardonable sin. Anyone can see why! Can there be three individual Gods?! One ayah in the Quran describes Allah asking Jesus: “O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah ?”. Of course, Jesus says he never did21.
Muhammad simply misunderstood Christianity. Moreover, all condemnations of Christians in the Quran seem totally justified. We also anathematize those who think so. Could one accept the idea of three Gods? Would there be room for three? For He is God omnipresent.
So how can one treat the issue of who and what Allah is? Of course, the General Council at Constantinople in 1180 concerning the God of Muhammad decided that Allah was totally unrelated to scriptural God. Allah was invented by Muhammad who misinterpreted the Old and New Testament. Indeed, formal logic excludes identification of Allah with God of the Bible. God should have attributes of genuine Divinity. Principal divine attributes are by no means evident in Muhammad’s doctrine of God as a remote power with obscure attributes. The only substantial attribute is the eternal Quran!
The idea of the eternal Quran existing in parallel with God is very problematic. Some describe an eternal green throne erected before Allah, with the splendid Quran volume in green morocco, the Source of Decrees22 mentioned in the Quran. Archangel Gabriel copied each surah and made Muhammad learn it by heart. Thus the Quran was brought to Earth. How did Muslims know what was written on the green throne? It appears that the main ornament of the green throne was the inscription “To Muhammad”. Yet this seems an informal doctrine of sorts.
Meanwhile, the dogma of the eternal Quran paralleling Eternal Allah survives, indicating Muslim renunciation of monotheism they advocate so vehemently. Coexistence of two eternal entities is paradoxical.
Moreover, the history of the Quran demonstrates an interesting way to denounce polytheism. The Quran denounces Arabs regarding three goddesses as the daughters of Allah. To quote: “Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-«Uzza and Manat, the third, the other? Are yours the males and His the females? That indeed were an unfair division! They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allah hath revealed no warrant” (an-Najm: The Star 53:19–23).
Arabs actually worshipped three female deities: Venus, Moon and Star – there were celestial deities. The three goddesses were considered to be daughters of Mecca’s main Deity23. At a later time when Muslims met real-life Jews and Christians rather than heretic inhabitants of Arabia, they came to identify their Allah with God revealed in the Scripture. But we should never identify the God revealed in the Holy Writ with the God worshipped by Muslims. They are different, and we cannot say that we and Muslims have one God.
Can we take an unbiased attitude on the matter today? Objectively speaking, there is a mental idol created by Muhammad. That is, the Allah described by the Quran does not exist, it is a distorted picture, a parody of true God, imposed on Muhammad by a force of evil. This is the most possible impartial judgment of the concept of Allah to date.
Nicholas of Serbia24 told an interesting tale of old days when people perceive God as a very distant campfire or light. They saw it from afar without knowing what it was. But when God approaches and is quite near, we see the triple fire of Divinity. So one can say that God in Islam as a very distant Deity, a gleam of true God, distorted in Muhammad’s mind and thus eclipsing true God. It was a mental dummy of true notions.
One finds preposterous notions of God in the Quran! For instance, God is said to invent sophisticated tortures for His enemies. He is said to love whoever love Him and hate whoever hate Him. And whoever hate Him would be made happy with sheer torture: they would burn in hell, and He would give them a new skin each time, to prolong suffering25. This would last forever, and they would be given molten iron to drink.
Imagine a simple, ordinary man offended and unable to overcome his passions. What would he do? Would he take vengeance on the offender? And if he had infinite power? He would avenge himself infinitely. This means that the man drew God from his own nature. But his nature was not perfect! Not to mention the Gospels where God says: for if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? But I say to you “love your enemies, bless them that curse you… and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”.26. Logically, the Christian notion has more in common with true God than Islamic which is too human-like if you will. This is the case of a pure anthromorphism.
The second article of faith for Muslims reads as follows: Muslims must believe in angels. Strictly speaking, aqidah maintains that a Muslim must believe in Allah, his angels, his Book, his envoys, and the last day27. These are the six points.
Angels are conceived by Muslims as spirits of light always following Allah’s wishes. According to Islam, angels cannot fall. The only case of a fallen angel is Iblis – our Satan – turning shaytan, e.g. Satan. Yet whether Iblis is an angel or a supreme jinn is a matter of argument. Some authorities say that Iblis is a mutinous angel, while others perceive him as jinn. Angels have variable wings, and various stories are told about them. Thus archangel Gabriel presumably has 600 wings and goes bathing in a spring every day when drops from his wings turn to pearls. The fantastic tales of Arabia illustrate an idealistic notion of angels.
In addition to angels, there are spirits designated as jinn28. Jinn are beings of non-angelic substance, created of smokeless fire and existing in the two types: Muslim jinn and heathen jinn.
Where does the notion of Muslim jinn come from? One day at the very beginning of his life Muhammad visited a town in Arabia. He had no army of his own and wished to preach his Word. Driven away and very much upset, he was inspired to think that his was not a fruitless effort for jinn of all Arabia came to hear his preaching and adopted Islam. This meant that he had accomplished his mission. Muhammad had this consolation. And that was the origin of Muslim jinn.
Unlike angels, jinn are male and female. They can intermarry and marry human beings. Whether the shariah should approve of marriage with jinn was the subject of wide speculation in Islamic newspapers of Tatarstan in 2004! Why? I don’t know why the issue was so urgent in Tatarstan in 2004, but the case is on record. There it was in Tatar newspapers, as large as life.
Jinn can be injurious to man: smother him or put an evil curse on him. Mutinous heathen jinn are led by Iblis – Satan, shaytan. In Islamic view, Iblis and his jinn will eventually be punished and cast into hell-fire along with those who defeat Islam.
How can we interpret the view? The question is not of mere tales and lore, but rather of a grave distortion of spiritual realities. The vivid and active world of spirits, and the notion of that world, is distorted to prevent human struggle against evil spirits. For if a jinn can be converted to Islam without any reservations, why not negotiate?!
Islam demands systematic struggle against the world of evil spirits. Allah himself is presumed to defend human beings. One possessed – a common case in Islamic world (when preaching in Izhevsk, I saw a Muslim woman trembling and fainting when the Gospel was recited) – should read the Quran to pacify a jinn.
This, however, is hardly true for the Islamic world seems terribly afraid of evil curse. Visitors in Turkey or Egypt, and in the East at large, would notice multiple apotropaic charms. They are taken quite seriously: a Fatima sleeve, for example, is the only way to repudiate assaulting jinn. That is why Muslims always appear panic stricken. In Christian terms this is explained by the fact that man is helpless against the Devil’s attacks, living in the shadow of death unless protected by baptism.
The second article of faith for Muslims as opposed to Christians is the belief in the sacred Scriptures. For Muslims, the Quran is an eternal being along with Allah. As it should only exist in Arabic text, translations are never regarded as adequate. Among the first expressions in the Quran is the “translation of senses”. This results in Islamic view of the impossibility of adequate translation for the Quran. The Quran represents Allah’s direct speech in Arabic. The idea of God using a temporal language to speak in eternity is also anthropomorphic, attributing variability to God. Not to mention the fact that the idea of an eternal reality parallel to God without being God is certainly polytheistic.
So concerning the Scripture, Muslims maintain that “your Bible is not the Divine Word because it contains both God’s words and tales of events”.
How can we explain to a Muslim that the Scripture is the Divine Word? In The Holy Writ is the Divine Word for us for God speaks in Word, and in action. Take a case of schooling: school methods include lecturing and demonstrating the case on the blackboard. Or else, one can use working models. So God teaches mankind by divine Revelation with His Word, appearing in action, word, punishment, preaching, demonstration, etc. Moreover, unlike the Quran, the Scripture is the Book of the Covenant between God and mankind, the Union of the Creator and His creatures. On the other hand, the Quran assumes no covenant of God and people. The Quran is a one-way communication, a commandment to man, instructions of sorts.
The Quran stories frequently contradict the Scripture. Thus Solomon’s greatest deed was, according to the Quran, conversing with jinn and beasts29. Similarly, the Quran describes Virgin Mary as a sister of Moses, and Amman in the Book of Esther as Pharaoph’s Vizier in the days of Joseph30. There are many other actual errors. The Quran contains 225 contradictions even noticed by Muslims31. They are explained by revoked and replaced ayat.
The Church therefore regards the Quran as Muhammad’s invention largely inspired by evil forces. Why so? Because we are convinced that the revelation was transmitted via … Yet the revelation did occur! We must also know that Muhammad had a genuine revelation and it was evident. According to Aishah, Muhammad’s favorite wife, Muhammad trembled, turned pale or red, or sweated when the revelation occurred. He often fainted, sometimes foaming. Muhammad said that at times he had a headache or heard bells ringing in his head, getting louder and terribly painful, and then he could not remember what had been transmitted32.
Of course, we could regard the symptoms as evidence of revelation. There certainly was a spiritual intervention though by no means divine. Christian would describe the stories of Muhammad’s followers describe as demonical possession. Thus the case of a child cured by Jesus Christ after the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor33, (the child’s symptoms) appears in line with Muhammad’s. Moreover, this is confirmed by Muhammad himself. Muhammad first thought that he was attacked by an evil spirit as he was smothered. He said that archangel Gabriel appeared, strangled him and made him read a text he could not understand. For a long time Muhammad believed that he was assaulted by an evil spirit, and even wanted to take his life. He was tortured by suicidal thoughts after the first revelation, which for us is a striking case of enticing trickery. He was only dissuaded by Khadijah, his first and elder wife.
Unfortunately, however, Muhammad became convinced of being God’s delegate. Therefore the Church rejects the Quran and will never regard it as God’s Word or allow bringing the Quran and the true Word of God together.
Belief in delegates also distinguishes Islam from Christianity and Judaism. Interestingly, the everlasting identity of Allah’s message is a principal concept of Islam. In Christianity and Old, and even New – modern Talmudic – Judaism the concepts are more or less variable… In this sense Islam has even less to do with Christianity than modern Talmudic Judaism, let alone Old Judaism, a true precursor of Christianity.
Prophets are sent to a certain man with a certain will of God depending on that man, to make a covenant, a union. That is, a prophet heralds a covenant with God gradually revealed. Revelation in Christian view grows depending on man’s or, to be precise, human spiritual growth, culminating not in the Word but in the appearance of God Himself, the Incarnation of Christ becoming Man. There prophetical mission ends when prophets herald Incarnation, the ultimate revelation. This is told in the Epistle to Jews recited on Christmas Eve. God who spoke of prophets before the Fathers many times and in many ways ultimately spoke to us in His Son Whom he put at the head of everything and through Whom He created the times.
In Islam, monotheism is the only message. Allah could only announce to mankind that no one was to be worshipped apart from himself. Consider also that some hadith reports mention 124 thousand messengers invariably maintaining that no one deserves worship but Allah who should be obeyed.34 That was all the news!
A discussion with Muslims on the Internet concerned the Quran as a fresh message compared to the Bible. What was Muhammad charged with? What gaps in the Bible were to be filled in by the Quran? Apparently, the Quran brought no news except permission to partake of suet. But suet had been formally permitted by the New Testament. So there was nothing new even in that point.
The qiblah35 – that is, the direction of worshipping (salat, namaz), was different, and that was probably all there was. The Quran offers nothing that the Bible does not. The Quran is a trivial doctrine if any. The Quran has nothing to add to the Bible, and nothing to reveal of God, simply overriding the true statements and rejecting some of the revelations.
We are coming now to the question of messengers. Those described in the Quran widely disparate from our common notions. They all have their biblical names like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Isaac and James, Adam and Eve, Mary Mother of God, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, King David or Solomon. But in fact they depart both from the Holy Writ and simple historical reality. Indeed, many scriptural characters are known from historical studies supporting Scripture texts. By way of example, consider the attitude to Jesus Christ, critical in Christianity. It may be argued that Muslims respect Jesus Christ but this is wrong for they know no Jesus Christ. The Messiah, Isa of the Quran is fundamentally different from Jesus Christ. First, by his name. A loan translation of Jesus in Arabic would yield Jesuah or Jeshuah but never Isa. Arabic Christians never refer to Jesus Christ as Isa but always as Jesua, to translate the Word of God as accurately as possible. Characteristically, Muhammad explains the loan translation by the fact that he knew the real name but could not adjust it to rhythm of the Quran. Can you imagine the name of Jesus Christ tuned up to the Quran?
Well, we will not quarrel about the name. It is not that important for the loan translation could be much worse. The point is that Christ is not seen as God but as a creature, contrary to the Gospel and Early Prophets. There are apocryphal stories of inconceivable miracles like animating clay birds in young childhood or talking at birth. Interestingly, the apocryphal “Arabic Gospel of Childhood” used by Muhammad for his story describes the new-born Jesus saying, “I am God sent to the Earth by My Father”, while Muhammad’s version reads “I am but a creature”. So Muhammad even distorted the apocryphal text.
There is another story of a meal he got out of Allah at the instance of his disciples. The Last Supper was thus combined with the story of feeding the multitudes in an affluent meal served by a magic tablecloth. The wonders are quite absurd.
Yet Christian and Islamic notions of Christ mainly differ in their interpretation of Christ’s death. Jews and atheists are known to reject the idea of Resurrection. Muslims reject the Crucifixion. They believe that Jesus Christ was not crucified but hidden by Allah substituting another victim. It was either Simon of Cyrene made to carry the Cross or Judas Iscariot. Christ, however, was taken to heaven and will return at the end of times to destroy Christendom, break the crosses, marry and die, and be buried at Muhammad’s side. Burial ground is reserved for Jesus Christ in Medina where Muhammad lies.
So the Jesus Christ described by the Quran differs radically from genuine Christ, and even from the historical Christ, for the Crucifixion theory is corroborated by every historian. All the sources, even other than Scriptural, relating to Jesus Christ as a person initially describe the crucifixion. For us this is the key message. “But we give the good news of Christ on the cross, a hard thing to the Jews, and a foolish thing to the Gentiles; But to those of God’s selection, Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power and the wisdom of God”36.
Incidentally, here lie the origins of the fearful hatred of the Cross. Destroying the cross has been among the principal Muslim actions in occupied territories. And, to repeat, the Muslim Christ would destroy the crosses.
In addition, Muslims are prohibited to partake of wine. The Quran banned wine but not drug already in use at the time. A doubtful hadith says that everything springing from poppy is blessed. Anyway, Muslims have always used narcotic drugs. This is a nude fact and it has been so since the days of Muhammad.
Why then the wine ban? For us it means the ban on the Holy Communion. Christians were periodically persecuted in Islamic countries because of the Communion wine. So they had to use raisin wine to escape oppression.
And most interestingly, Muslims venerate Alexander of Macedonia as a prophet. He is said to be a prophet of Allah. But Alexander believed himself to be a son of Zeus, and was a zealous partisan of polytheism. Yet he is respected as a genuine prophet and described in the Quran as Dhu al-Qarnayn, “the two-horned”, for his two-horned casket. The Two-Horned indeed… There is a fascinating story of his coming to a dirty, stinking spring where the Sun descends to each night. According to Muhammad, the stinking spring is located in the Far West. While Muslims of today feel very awkward and try to evade the confusion, the Quran text definitely indicates that the Sun goes down into that particular stinking spring. This is one example of popular errors resulting from Muhammad’s ignorance.
Muslim belief in the Last Day also contrasts with Christianity. In Muslim doctrine, death occurs as follows: the soul leaves the body with the help of a certain angel; it is then judged by Allah and returns to the body. A Muslim’s soul remains in the dead body until Resurrection Day, and enjoys it. I kept asking Muslims in vain what pleasure one could find in a grave. I asked common people and imams, and no one informed me. More often the answer was: “This is mysterious delight you can never understand”. And that’s all there is to it.
Accordingly, a sinner’s soul remains in the dead body and is tortured by angels. And so one lies in his grave to the Last Day, enjoying it or suffering.
Islam specifies the following before the end of the world: Jesus (Isa) shall return to Earth, destroy all Christians, break all crosses, marry, and worship Allah. Moreover, he will not lead the Muslim prayer, the namaz, only assisting the leading imam of the time, the Mahdi. Then al-Dajjal, a counterpart to our Antichrist, shall appear, to be killed by Allah. Finally, angel Izrail shall blow his trumpet and all the world shall die: people, jinn, and angels. Then Izrail shall kill himself by order of Allah. And then Allah shall raise the dead and they shall come before Allah, and Allah will judge them. Muslims will have their sins produced, confess and receive absolution. More sinful Muslims will be cast into hell but led out by Muhammad a thousand years after. Those who died in Jihad, the Holy War – terrorists and the like – shall not be judged but taken straight to paradise. Hadith say that their wounds would open and shed musk on resurrection. I for one am not particularly delighted by the scene but they seem to like it I don’t know why. This defies reason.
Others shall cross the As-Sirat37 bridge to paradise. The bridge shall be as a razor blade for sinners but broad and smooth for the righteous. Muslims would ride the rams they had sacrificed for Greater Bayram38. A worthless ram would stumble and fall down into fire. Those riding good rams – i.e. having made good sacrifice – would come to paradise.
Muslim paradise is unlike Christian conceptions. It is, to put it mildly, a special place to make great and vigorous sex, delight in heavenly beauty, walk in the gardens and enjoy one’s meals. Some hadith provide for three million dishes per day and ability to eat them all. In addition, there would be 124 thousand houris per day. A houri is a being – not at all human – of variable appearance and black-eyed as a pearl to enjoy, etc. She instruments sexual pleasure alone. There would be 124 thousand every day, and endurance enough to cope. According to St Simeon of Thessaloniki, Muslims are promised “paradise gardens filled with all kinds of dissipation”39. This is the actual promise of afterlife, impossible as it seems.
Moreover, one shall never see Allah except as a misty Moon from afar, as one hadith puts it. And Allah would ask: “Are you content? Would you like any more?” A man would say, “Oh yes, please”. And Allah would fulfill all his carnal desires, but no more.
How should we interpret this? In my opinion, Muslim paradise is fully practicable. Church Fathers mention succubi and incubi40, demons of lust. This is a case of insatiable… like bulimia, excessive or insatiable appetite due to eating disorder. It would be more like hell for us.
Christians believe in the Kingdom of Heaven, life with God, Divine Communion as primary delight of eternity, and personal Divine Union, Divine Vision and state of Grace. Therefore we can neither accept nor conceive of Muhammadan delight.
Another point of Muslim doctrine is belief in divine decree. According to Hadith and the Quran, Allah told a pen to write 50 thousand years before Creation, and the pen began writing down everything to come until the end of days. This was how a world program was written down. Only the Quran was excluded for it was created. So Allah is the creator of all deeds, both evil and good. He creates good and evil.
In a recent debate held on 3 February, Polosin41 unwittingly supported the doctrine of Allah as the creator of evil. For us the idea is inconceivable as there is no evil and what does not exist cannot be created. Evil has no proper substance, it is the distorted good, perverted good abusing divine good works, and God will not disfigure His creation. God the good and merciful, absolutely just and holy will not tolerate evil.
According to Islam, however, Allah enables a murder to kill, an adulterer to commit adultery, and a clement man to give alms. Allah is believed to have two will types: the approving and the disapproving one. This is not permissiveness but will. An example of disapproving will is making a man a murder and then punishing him for it. The only line of freedom for man in Islam is a thin line of choice. A man may follow or not follow the way of Allah. The source of freedom is obscure. While refuting original sin and perversity of human nature, Islam proposes a nafs, cognate of the Hebrew nefesh (soul) opposing the will of Allah for reasons unknown. Different Islamic trends have different opinion on the subject. Some deny free will without reserve, others believe that man may wish and only Allah can fulfill. It fact it repeats an old lie. Remember Adam blaming “the wife You gave unto me” for his own sin. That is, the sin was committed by the wife God palmed on Adam. My wife is to blame and not myself. In fact, the blame is put on God, and man declines reform. This invariably leads to theomachy. Thus Islam and Christianity are totally opposite and incompatible on doctrinal grounds.
Other pillars of Islam likewise differ from the Protoplast conception.
(2) Adoration (namaz) – significantly, not prayer. Namaz texts prescribe man’s attitude to God with no supplication whatever. Personal appeal in prayer is allowed periodically, though not highly approved of due to the doctrine of predestination: the divine decree would take care of your personal needs.
Of course, Islam allows for private prayer but namaz is the rite of adoration. Interestingly, ritual is the key element of namaz. If ritual is broken, namaz is invalid and has to be repeated. Allah seems to be rather indifferent to man’s heart which is the first consideration for us Christians. Thus a night service celebrated in all form will be void if the mind is indulging in a flight of fancy. Prayer without consideration and sincere concern is worthless to God. “Man sees the face and God the heart.” God sees man’s sincere wish. Allah cares not.
It is evident for us Christians that namaz is authored by someone who simply cannot see into a man’s heart. In Christian view, only God and not angels can know man’s inner life. And the angel dictating the Quran did not know man’s heart, being mainly concerned with ritual. Similarly, heathens making Christians celebrate the rite of adoration never required any sincere concern in the process. They even used to say: you may worship anyone in your heart, just put some incense in the fire, and that’s it. Very much like Islam, isn’t it?
(3) The third pillar is often described as alms. But it is nothing of the kind. Zakah is an obligatory charity. Traditionally, it amounts to 1/40 of the income though there is a fixed annual sum equivalent to 9 g silver. For the first, it must be public. Zakah is generally announced in public, often in a mosque: so-and-so donates so much. This is not universal but most frequent. And then, zakah is only donated to Muslims or potential converts. By contrast, Christians should give alms to anyone. The proverbial charitable Samaritan helped anyone, Christian or not, believers and nonbelievers, as we should help everyone in the name of the Lord42. As regards the alms, God forbids ostensible Christian charity.
Incidentally, sectarians boasting of great charity but actually far less charitable than Orthodox Christians, often use charity to promote their wrong beliefs.
(4) The fourth pillar concerns the Ramadan month of fasting. Early Muslims in the days of Muhammad kept the fast in a Christian manner: 40 days, and then one month abstaining from meat and milk products as Christians do today. Then Muhammad said it was too hard, and it was revealed to him that daylight fasting would suffice. Accordingly, Ramadan fasting involves abstinence from drink and food, sexual intercourse and, funny enough, cupping glasses (other bans are detailed by the Shariah) from the dawn to the moment when a black thread is indistinguishable from the white one out-of-doors. Then comes the first meal after fasting when you may eat anything you like. I visited Cairo in a Ramadan. It was a pathetic sight. Imagine a Muslim milking a goat in the street in broad daylight, the milk flowing on the asphalt. Of course, the goat had to be milked because of the swelling udder but why make a pool on the asphalt? Late in the day the streets are quite dangerous with motorcycles and fast cars almost touching the pavement when Muslims are racing to their meals. Tables are brought out with shish kebab and all that piled and everyone waiting for muezzin’s43 call from the minaret to start the meal. Then the call comes like a factory siren and they all fall almost diving on the food at once. I was rather amused because they seemed to regard fasting as dieting rather than a way of spiritual growth. Yet it should be realized for the sake of objectivity that many good Muslims prefer in-depth study of the Quran during the Ramadan. This certainly resembles our fasting devoted to fundamental knowledge of the Holy Writ. Thus Islam retains some elements of Christian fasting. On the other hand, Islamic fasting involves no efforts to drive one’s passions. Fasting is rather used as an instrument of devotion to Allah in parallel to namaz. The key element of the fast for Christians is the struggle against gluttony, anger, and other passions. Islam knows no such notions. Passions are not to be driven in Islam because they are all natural. Man’s present condition is natural for Islam, with the exception of Sufi who recognize the struggle against passions though only to destroy the ego and unite with Allah.
(5) Then, the fifth pillar is the pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj. Originating in heathen days, the hajj copies the heathen rite and remains obscure. Why kiss the black rock, for instance? Caliph Omar said he did not know why and only followed the herald’s example. The custom seems superstitious. Indeed, sacrifice is not important and has nothing to do with redemption, it is simply senseless. Mercifully, Muslims have abandoned pagan notions of Allah living on sacrificial flesh. Neither do they believe in Hebrew conception of sacrifice reminiscent of the sin and redemption, nor in Christian purifying sacrifice. Why then sacrifice camels or rams? We see it as worthless and certainly superstitious.
Stoning is likewise inconceivable. Many people are pelted to death with stones in Mecca every year. They think it means stoning the Satan. I doubt that one can stone a genie or an angel for they are hard to hit. This is mere superstition. And, of course, death comes at the end. While old rites were to prepare men to the Coming of The Lord, modern hajj rites are mentally void and thus obscure. Muslims would generally explain that white robes symbolize spiritual purity, and that is all. Now Orthodox Christians are known to wear white robes for baptism. White robes were also worn by Hebrews on the Day of Atonement, the Yom Kippur44. The rest is incomprehensible.
They say, “We do not know. Allah said we should and so we do”. Why should they do so and so in namaz?45 No idea. That is, some things that are absurd and inconceivable in doctrinal terms are done just because they were told to do so. This is indeed superstitious. Christians regard it as superstition to be rejected in baptism.
(6) And finally, the sixth pillar is jihad. It is a mission of sorts for Islam. Why is it omitted in standard regulations? Muslims refusing jihad as the sixth pillar do not oppose it. A Muslim cannot oppose jihad because it is mentioned in Quranic ayah 53. They generally explain that jihad cannot be universal and thus cannot be a pillar for all. And that is that.
This is common for all Muslims in the world. Yet Islam is not solid. There are four principal schools, and two fundamentally different kinds of Islam: the so-called Euro-Islam (European Islam), and the traditional Islam of the Arabic world.
The Euro-Islam includes, for example, our Islam confessed by all Turkic nations in Russia. It is referred to as jadidism46, a doctrine emerging in 1809 and adapting Islam to traditional notions and traditional laws of Bashkirs, Tatars, and other Turkic people. The resulting doctrine is not considered as genuine Islam by Arabic Muslims. And this is fair enough as jadidism actually involves non-Islamic notions like the holy examples, pagan remedies for the evil eye, etc.
Tatars generally have vague notions of Islam, saying that, “we are Muslims because we are Tatars, but our Islam means national identity. If I am not Muslim, I am not Tatar either”. Thus Islam is identified with nationalism.
Remember that nationalism resulted from damnation. According to the Bible, there were no nations before the Tower of Babel47, and different nations resulted from the damnation of the Tower of Babel, to prevent them from building together a city in defiance of God. Thus deifying nation is defying God, the God of all People, the Maker of Universe. According to Father Sophrony Sakharov48, “if nationalism is not overcome, Christian mission fails”. If people cling to nationality rather than search for absolute truth, they will never find God.
Of course this presumably mild Islam is destructive because of the nationalist trends, as evident in Tatarstan today appearing as a symbol of nationalism. We will never agree to it. As a matter of fact, Arabic Muslims are no more enthusiastic. And I will certainly agree with Arabic Muslims on the subject: Truth is more important than nation, truth is independent of nation, and one cannot be Muslim because one is Tatar. Similarly, one cannot be Christian because one is Russian. Christianity does not depend on nation but rather on belief in the Lord uniting all people in the Church universal where there is “no Greek nor Jew, and no barbarian nor Scythian” and where the damnation of the Tower of Babel is removed. For people serve God in different language but worship God of all people in the Church universal. Accordingly we will hold this Thursday service in Krutitsky town house both in Tatar, and in Old Slavonic, celebrating the Church universal.
In the Caucasus, Shariah, or the divine Law of Islam, was combined with the traditional Turkic code, the adat, to produce a peculiar synthesis. Some of the regulations emerging in the guise of Islam actually disagree with it. The feud is the classic example. Feud runs contrary to Islamic practices, and was disapproved of by Muhammad who promoted communal Shariah Courts. Meanwhile, feudal practices persist as part of the adapted heathen code.
Additionally, veneration of hallowed places, holy springs, and saints is widespread in the Caucasus, obviously contradicting Islam that is unaware of holiness as communion with the Lord. The only holiness in Islam is that of dervishes. A dervish is a man of exceptional abilities generally regarded as not quite agreeable. There is a saying that miracles are the menses of saints and righteous men, that is, something unclean that righteous men have. Moreover, dervishes generally produce miracles of occult nature, and admit it. They describe the process as a trance, a certain state not invoked by Allah but rather by intercourse with jinn.
Persistent veneration of saints among Caucasian, and some Arabic nations, is indicative of Islam’s inhumanity. People want saints because that is their nature. Man wants to be holy. God created man for holiness. And man looks for sacred objects. Islam provides nothing of the kind and thus falls short of God’s message.
And finally, two more Islam types emerge in Russia. One recruits young people regarding Islam as a more vigorous style of living. They think that Russian Orthodox Church is good for old wives and strong men should choose Islam. In my opinion, it suits teenagers more. Anyway, this is why Russian converts adopt the more radical form of Islam, the Wahhabis.
The other type is the female Islam when a Russian wife of a Muslim, or a man marrying a Muslim woman, converts under the influence of her or his mate. Shariah permits a Muslim to marry a Christian, a Jew, or a Zoroastrian, but not the reverse. Nevertheless, the latter is a rather widespread occurrence now.
Similarly popular today is the sufism, an Islamic trend formally condemned as heretic and describing God as an impersonal power capable of absorbing and dissolving man which is, strangely enough, the ultimate goal of human being! The trend is also very popular in some intellectual circles.
Let’s discuss Wahhabis. It is criticized severely and sometimes referred to as a sect though President Putin justly disproved the term. And he was absolutely right in doing so for Wahhabis is not a sect. Rather it is the purest remnant of the core Islam, and the official confession in Saudi Arabia adopting the Wahhabis version along with some other Arabic countries. This particular version of hanbali madhhab49 tracing back to the 8th century accepts the Quran and Sunnah50– the prophetic tradition – as the only sources of Islamic law, rejecting any possible change.
It was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab51. He initiated the destruction of all sacred places in Arabia, and the removal of all decorations from the Kaaba52. Wahhab advocated strict observance of Sunnah, social justice for Muslims, and active jihad against the infidels. Those unwilling to reject the vestiges of paganism were condemned as unfaithful and should be suppressed. Among his followers were the Saudites, the royal family in Saudi Arabia today. They were first defeated by Turks, but regained power in the 20th century, not without the support of Great Britain and the United States.
One related trend was the murids53 of Shamil in the Caucasus. The Shamil movement had a genetic affinity with the Arabian movement of Muhammad Wahhab. It is a revival of Old Islam, the more barbaric components in particular. To say nothing of slave-trading! Slave trade was practiced in the Islamic world until recently. Slave trade was only abolished in Islamic countries in 1980s and 1990s though actually surviving today.
The main component of Wahhabis is certainly the law. Remember the Taliban54, a Wahhabis movement specifically controlling beard length for men over a certain age. It appeared that a man over 30 should wear a beard as long as that of Prophet Muhammad. Moreover, Wahhabis detailed human life all round. This presumably guaranteed salvation.
When discussing the more barbaric vestiges, I meant the Wahhabis notion of divine restriction, of Allah’s restricted mobility. The idea is inherent in Wahhabis. They maintain that the main goal for a Muslim is creating the kingdom of justice. This is actually impossible as no justice is possible on the Earth without God, without defeating death that will otherwise devour justice. And evil cannot be defeated without the intervention of Christ.
The other major trend in Islam major, in addition to Sunni 55 following the sacred tradition, is the shii 56 . Shii is an Islamic trend followed in Iran and Azerbaijan. Shii also accepts the five pillars though, characteristically, relying both on a council of scholars like in Sunnah, and an Islamic leader, the hereditary caliph, for the correct interpretation of Islam. A sequence of imams57 securing religious continuity would guarantee adequate interpretation of the Quran. This is somewhat similar to our notion of religious hierarchy for the correct interpretation of the Scripture. For them, however, it was the hierarchy of initiates rather than hierarchy at large. This is related to Gnostics in a most implicit way. Shii actually starts from gnosticism. That is, a sequence of imams – twelve in all – shared a secret knowledge inaccessible for the profane. The process went on until the 10th century when the last imam departed to reappear some time in the future.
The first Imam Ali58 was killed in a feud and then worshipped as a martyr along with other imams. Martyrdom, that is self-torment or self-torture, is regarded as God-pleasing. This is the origin of the scene you might have seen on TV: Muslims beating themselves with pieces of iron. They believe that self-torture deserves merit and brings divine power. For us it looks more like the stabbing and flagellating priests of Baal. Not a salutary action. The martyrs venerated by Shiis are not the Christian martyrs. While a Christian martyr is witness to death defeated, his death confirming that death was defeated by Jesus Christ, a Shii martyr demonstrates his obedience to Allah, and willingness to torture himself for the sake of Allah. The two conceptions are quite different. A Shii notion is slavery and a Christian notion is freedom.
We also think that the notion of imams as keepers of spiritual light is shamanistic rather than anything related to divine revelation. Indeed, God is the Creator of all people and He has a message for all people. Of course, different people accept the message as they wish. But we have neither secret tenets nor secret doctrines for God’s teaching is mystery. It is not secret but profound and only revealed to those who live by it and know the implication of the words. As we see it, the Shii idea of spiritual light is quite wrong. It is just an attempt to pass fiction for objective mystery.
For us the Ali and Muhammad’s grandson Hasan ibn Ali – whose graves are major Shii sanctuaries – are not the heroes worshipped by Shiis but rather our primordial enemies as Ali was among the first caliphs59 destroying Christians systematically. Wars against Christians had been common since the days of Muhammad, but it was Ali who initiated anti-Christian genocide. It was his personal achievement.
Shii also differ from Sunnites by temporal matrimony.
Islam accepts various matrimonial schemes. Thus a Muslim can have four lawful wives and an armful of concubines, as the Quran puts it60 – that is, as many as he wishes. Of course, he must support them all.
Shii extends the scheme with temporal marriage contracted for 1 to 99 years or, to be precise, from 1 hour to 99 years. More often the contract is made for 1 hour. The scheme is generally used for rape and prostitution. That is why Shii countries, unlike Sunni Islamic countries, have no prostitution. In the meanwhile, prostitution is not banned in either. The high moral standards of Islam indeed! Objective evidence proves the contrary. It would be wrong to say that all Muslims are like that. Many of them follow Sunnah in practice. But the very roots of the doctrine are ungodly. They offend humanity, and the divine will.
And the worst of it is that Islam admits of any sin except apostasy. All sins are permissible towards the infidels. Thus any woman captured by a Muslim is regarded as a concubine whether she wants it or not. When Western human rights activists ransomed 4500 people in Soudan in 2001, mainly women and children, 3/4 of the women swore that they had been raped regularly. Moreover, no one is interested whether the woman is married or not. The most regrettable behavior certainly indicated double standards. This is inconceivable for us because there is no self-non-self discrimination in murder!
So what should we think of Islam, and the world of Islam? What is it? The world of Islam is certainly a major phenomenon provoked by the angel of darkness. This is the only possible interpretation. On the other hand, the world of Islam is so extended not because the people, the Christians on whom God brought down Muslims, are unworthy of being Christian. In ancient times God spoke to Abraham of his son Ismail, Muhammad’s forefather, saying that “he will be like a mountain ass among men; his hand will be against every man and every man’s hand against him, and he will keep his place against all his brothers”61.
Islam is so widespread because Christians have acted against God’s wishes, in defiance of God’s laws. As one righteous man says, Islam is the scourge of God for Christians growing lazy. And so Islam and Islamic carnage emerge in Russia today when people facing Islamic terrorism turn to TV chewing the cud, and many refuse the guidance of God! This is a visitation of God for the people’s sins.
How then should we treat Muslims? Christians should live in peace with all people. We should never offend the people of Islam. I for one will never approve the scandalous Western cartoons. I think that Muslims were right and Western “friends” were wrong in the case. As a matter of fact, the idea was to mock at religion in any form. They jeer at Christ, Islam, Muhammad, and God on the whole. This is barefaced theomachy, and let Muslims reprove it. I think that Christians should not take the side of cartoonists abusing false worship. Even if the shrines are false, the abuse is not in God’s name, and it is not the way to preach Christ.
Notice also that Islam as a religion has nothing in common with us. Their God is not our God, and they do not respect Christ. They do not respect Mother of God. Their religion is very different from our belief in the Revelation and, of course, all Muslims are yet to accept Divine Revelation. Otherwise they will certainly perish with no hope for salvation because they do not believe in the Son of God. The Lord says that whoever rejects the only begotten Son of God, “will not see life, God’s wrath is resting on him”62. Do not think that it is impossible. In fact, the Holy Writ contains implicit prophesy of Muslims coming to God some day. Psalm 72, 10 mentions gifts offered to Christ by kings of Arabia and Seba – places right in the heart of modern Islamic world.
Therefore, having confidence in salvation, we shall pray that the Lord destroy the Islamic system barring people from going over, for those departing from Islam in Islamic lands now are to be killed immediately. And we shall not only pray but also preach Christ among Muslims, to make them our brothers. For many of them are good people and, I insist on it, for the most they are good.
This is what I wanted to say today.
1Ummah is a religious community and a form of social organization of people. Theoretically the Muslim community unites Muslims from all over the world regardless their ethnic and cultural background.
2Justin the Philosopher (Justin the Great, Justin the Roman, Justin Martyr) (about 100 – about 160) – an early Christian apologist and one of the Fathers of the Church who was among the first who implanted notions of Greek philosophy to Christianity and initiated theological interpretation of history. He is remembered on June, 1(14).
3Omar Khyyam (about 1048 – after 1112) – a Persian poet, mathematician and philosopher. The Poet is famous all over the world by his quatrains called rubaiyat. The lines quoted in the text are from the following rubaiyat: The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes, But Here or There as strikes the Player goes; And He that toss’d you down into the Field, He knows about it all – He knows – HE knows!
4Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (1937 – 2006) – the Iraqi state leader, the fifth president of Iraq (1979 – 2003), the secretary general of Iraqi regional organization Ba’ath party, the marshal (1979); dethroned in April, 2003 as a result of the american-british troops invasion; sentenced to death by the Iraqi court.
5The House of war is divided into two parts: the House of actual war (jihad) and the House of conciliation. The difference between them is shown in the Quran (an-Nisa», 4– 90: Women): “They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them, except those who seek refuge with a people between whom and you there is a covenant, or (those who) come unto you because their hearts forbid them to make war on you or make war on their own folk. Had Allah willed He could have given them power over you so that assuredly they would have fought you. So, if they hold aloof from you and wage not war against you and offer you peace, Allah alloweth you no way against them”.
6Shariah is the moral code and religious law of Islam described in the Quran and Sunnah. It sets ethic standards of Muslims and defines norms of their behavior.
7The Quran (literary meaning ‘reading’ or ‘recitation’) is the central religious text of Islam, a homiliary, a set ceremonials and laws, prayers and allegories told by Muhammad in Mecca and Medina. The earliest scrolls date to VII – VIII centuries.Surah is chapter of the Quran, Ayah / Ayat (usuall translated as ‘verse’ or ‘sign’) is the smallest unit of the Quran.
8Jizyah (compensation), a per capita tax paid by non-Muslim citizens living in Islamic states.
9Al-Imran: The Family Of Imran 3:83.
10Jihad (effort) is a holy war for faith. This largely involves armed struggle against the enemies of Islam, and struggle for faith in a more general sense like correcting individual inclinations, encouraging obedience to shariah rules, stark refusal of all things condemned by shariah, etc. An amicable Jihad means personal improvement, in other words, self-perfection, and struggle against all things improper, by word and deed.
11Wahhabis are the followers of a religious and political movement in Islam, initiated by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–87) in Central Arabia. Striving to purify Islam, Wahhabis advocated moral simplicity and fought for Arabian consolidation. Wahhabis is the official ideology of Saudi Arabia and a common trend in other Arabic countries.
12Namaz / salat (prayer, worship, one of the main rites of Islam – daily five-fold prayer.
13Zakah – (purifying) – religious “purifying” charity for Muslims, prescribed by the Quran with amounts and rates specified by shariah.
14Ramadan, ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar (hijrah) when Muhammad first had the revelation. Ramadan is the month of obligatory fasting.
15Aqidah, Islamic creed or articles of faith. Quranic formulation includes belief in God, angels, prophets, scriptures, and the Day of Judgment.
16al-«Ankabut: The Spider 29: 62
17Sufism, Islamic mysticism originating in the 8th and 9th century and elaborated between the 10th and 12th century. Sufism typically combines metaphysics and ascetic practices, the doctrine of progressive conception of and union in God via mystic love (in the illuminative way). Sufism had a pronounced influence on Arabic and, in particular, on Persian poetry (Sanahi, Attar, Rumi).
18al-Baqarah: The Cow 2: 102.
19Hadith, report of the words and deeds of Muhammad and other early Muslims; considered an authoritative source of revelation, second only to the Quran (sometimes referred to as sayings of the Prophet).
20al-Àraf: The Elevated Places 7: 178.
21al-Ma’idah: The Food 5: 116.
22az-Zukhruf: The Embellishment 43: 2–4: “By the Scripture which maketh plain, Lo! We have appointed it a Lecture, in Arabic that haply ye may understand. And Lo! in the Source of Decrees, which We possess, it is indeed sublime, decisive”.
23an-Najm: The Star 53:19–23. The three Goddesses worshipped in Arabia were: Al-Lat, Al-«Uzza, and Manat.
24St. Nicholas of Serbia, (1880–1956) (Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Ohrid and ZiCa, eminent divine and religious philosopher.
25an-Nisa»: Women 4:56: “Lo! Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. Lo! Allah is ever Mighty, Wise”.
27an-Nisa»: Women 4:136: “Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray”.
28Jinn, creatures known in popular belief in pre-Islamic Arabia and mentioned numerous times in the Quran, parallel to human beings but made out of fire rather than clay.
29an-Naml: The Ant 27: 15–54.
30al-Qasas: The Narrative 28: 6–16.
31Revocation of religious rules is legitimized by Quranic acts and authentic hadith reports. Some revelations and rules, however, are not to be revoked.
32Ibn Saad, Tabaqat, vol. 1, p. 225; Ibn Saad, Tabaqat, vol. 1, p. 228; Muslim, 17, 4192.
33Matthew 17, 14–21.
34“There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God” (shahadah, witness). “(We take our) colour from Allah, and who is better than Allah at colouring. We are His worshippers” (al-Baqarah: The Cow 2:138). “Unto Allah belong the East and the West” (al-Baqarah: The Cow 2:142). “Whencesoever thou comest forth turn thy face toward the Inviolable Place of Worship” (al-Baqarah: The Cow 2:149).
35Qiblah, direction Muslims face during prayer (towards the Kaaba in Mecca), or a prayer wall in the mosque into which the michrab (niche) is set, indicating the direction of prayer.
361Corinthians 1, 23–24.
37Sirat al-Mustaqim, al-, the right way; the straight path. The “right way” is also applied to the Quran itself, as it reveals broad moral directives, with some legal prescriptions, as guidance for humanity.
38Greater-Bayram, feast of the Sacrifice (qurban). Also known as Id al-Adha. Celebrated at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the month of pilgrimage.
39St Simeon of Thessaloniki (Symeon of Solun) (d. 1429), archbishop and saint. Formal glorification took place in 1981. Remembrance day – 15 (28) September. Cit. from his “Vs. heathens or Mohammedans”.
40Succibi (pl. of succubus) (from lat. succubare – lie under), incubbi (pl. of incubus) (incubus, from lat. incubare – lie above) – demons of lust.
41Ali Vyacheslav Sergeevich Polosin (b. 1956), former Otrthodox priest, now Islamic theologian and public figure.
42Luke 10, 29–37.
43Muezzin, a male Muslim who issues adhan (call to prayer) in Arabic from atop the minaret five times daily.
44Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement translated in Russian as the Doomsday), the most important Hebrew feat, one-day fast, the day of repentance and absolution.
45Placing one’s hands at the face (ed.).
46Jadidism (renovationism), social and political trend among Muslim, primarily Turkic nations.
48Sophrony (Sakharov), archim. (1896 – 1993), theologian, confessor and monastic elder, pupil of St Silouan of Mt Athos.
49Madhhab, school of religious law within Islam, in a broader sense – the Muslim way. Islamic law within Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama»ah (sunni) evolved in the 4 schools of law (madhhab): the Hanafi, the Shafii, the Maliki, and the Hanbali. The Hanafi madhhab – eponym -Abu Hanifah developed the methodological principles of Muslim jurisprudence. His method of legal instruction started from the Quran, Sunnah (with careful selection of Hadithat), statements of his co-workers, analogy to existing Revelation, preference of solution contradicting the previous but more rational in the situation, agreement of theologians, and traditional opinion. The choice of available enactments was dictated by more earnest or majority opinion. Most of the modern Muslims belong to the followers of this legal trend.
50Sunnah, established custom, normative precedent, conduct, and cumulative tradition, typically based on Muhammad’s example. In addition, Sunnah involves actions that are desirable but not obligatory.
51Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–87), founder of Wahhabis, official ideology of Saudi Arabia.
52Kaaba is the cube-shaped “House of God” located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
53Murids, followers of sufi charged with implicit obedience to their religious leader (sheikh, imam). Murids were largely involved in the actions of North Caucasian mountaineers in Caucasian War 1817–64.
54Taliban (arab. talib – knowledge-seeking), a fundamentalist Islamic movement in Afghanistan, instituted in 1992 by graduates of Muslim religious schools (madrasah) opened in Pakistan for Pashtun refugees from the neighboring Afghanistan. The center for Taliban led by Mullah Muhammad Omar who proclaimed the “genuine Islamic” state as the objectives to be pursued was Kandagar (in south-east Afghanistan). By February 1995 Talibs occupied half of the southern provinces and surrounded Kabul, and in 1996 marched into the town. By late 1990s Talibs controlled most of the country. Television and most of the popular pastimes were banned, women and religious minorities were disabled.
55Sunni is, along with shii, the major branch in Islam an alternative trend. Sunnis hold the majority in most Islamic countries (except Iran, South Iraq and North Yemen). They accept Sunnah along with the Quran. Decisions on Muslim leaders (imam-caliph) are governed by “communal agreement”.
56Shii is the other major branch in Islam (along with Sunni) originating in the 7thcentury from debates on the number of imams and identification of the last imam. Shii is divided in sects. Shiis reject Sunni caliphs, regarding Alide Imams as the only legitimate successors of Muhammad. Shii is the official religion of Iran and is also popular in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, etc.
57Imam for Muslims is: 1) service leader in a mosque; 2) secular and spiritual leader in a community.
58Ali (Ali ibn Abi Talib) (d. 600), the fourth of the “pious caliphs” (656–661) of the Arab Caliphate, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law (husband of his daughter Fatima). Shii respect him as the first Imam, and the “extreme Shiis” set him above Muhammad.
59Caliph / khalif, in some Oriental Islamic countries, title of sovereignty combining spiritual and secular authority. In Turkey (as Muslim spiritual leader) valid until 1924.
60an-Nisa»: Women 4:3: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice”.
61Genesis 16, 12.
62John 3, 36.
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