Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I have already laid out my general views on religion in this space. I'm not concerned with what religion you follow, what you believe, or even if you don't have a religion at all, so long as whatever it is you believe makes a decent person out of you.

But that, obviously, is not the religious issue at hand lately. The religious issue at hand revolves around the proposed so-called "Ground Zero Mosque". We'd deal with the facts surrounding that, but they seem to have fallen by the wayside as far as importance to the debate, which has morphed from a single 'should we build this at this site' question to a broader... you hate to call it a "discussion" because it's more of a "shouting match"... no ,wait, that's not really the right term either; let's go with "shrieking aural hellscape" concerning Islam in general. It's not about 'should this mosque be built here'. It's 'should any mosque be built anywhere', and in one case noted on the Rachel Maddow Show earlier tonight, it has actually gone as far as 'should Islam be legal in the United States'.

Clearly, the "Ground Zero Mosque" itself has become vestigial. It's not the subject anymore. It is simply the backdrop of a larger subject, perpetuated in a country that is mostly Christian with a decent Jewish contingent.

So to all three of you, here comes a bombshell.

You're all worshipping the same guy.

Let me repeat that, a bit louder:

God, Yahweh, and Allah are the same guy.

Seriously, did the three of you think it a coincidence that you're all fighting over the same city, Jerusalem? Because it's not.

Collectively, the three faiths are known as the Abrahamic religions. They started out on the same page, with the same historical lineage.

Everybody originally started out as Jewish. There was a gradual, growing split that saw off the Christians, but it's generally accepted that the major event that kicked things off was the Rejection of Jesus in 30 AD. For our purposes, that's enough. We just need enough historical backstory to establish the fact that the two began as one, but split off somewhere along the way. The split centers around the fact that while the Christians held Jesus up as a messiah, the Jews did not, because of a number of factors shown here. We'll stick with one- that the Messiah must be descended on his father's side from King David. As Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, this is impossible. Claims that Mary herself is descended of David are dismissed by, among other things, the fact that family lineage is passed on only through the father. And, of course, what father?

That's Jesus, though. God never appeared as human. In fact, he is not mortal. This, the Jews have zero scriptural issues with- according to our previous source,

Maimonides devotes much of the "Guide for the Perplexed" to the fundamental idea that God is incorporeal, meaning that He assumes no physical form. God is Eternal, above time. He is Infinite, beyond space. He cannot be born, and cannot die. Saying that God assumes human form makes God small, diminishing both His unity and His divinity. As the Torah says: "God is not a mortal" (Numbers 23:19).

Any of the three faiths will tell you that their high deity takes many names. Yahweh, of course, is the Jewish name, or, as it is officially, YHWH, all capitalized and without the vowels.

If you Christians will crack open your Bibles, most of you will not-so-coincidentally notice a name in there that is also written in all caps, a practice begun by one William Tyndale in the 16th century. What is it?


The problem is, the New Testament writers- different from and chronologically later than those who did the Old Testament- had their own idea of who should get the 'lord' label, and they picked Jesus. This results in a certain amount of confusion within the Bible itself, as 'lord' is meant to refer to two different entities. The way you can tell the difference is to look at how it's written. 'Lord' is Jesus. 'LORD' is the mutual God.

So that's those two. We must still establish Islam's connection, and remember that we're not necessarily trying to establish a triangle link of Islam/Christianity, Christianity/Judaism and Judaism/Islam; only establish a common ancestral origin.

This, for Islam, is a more complicated matter. One has to start delving into the theology of it all rather than just relying on straight history. But let's start with the origin. The Muslim faith, of course, began with the prophet Muhummad, who received his first revelation from God at age 40 in 610.

You'll note I just said 'God'. I didn't say 'Allah'. This is because I'm speaking English. 'Allah' is nothing more than the Arabic word for 'God'.

The big question, obviously, is how do you know it's the same God that the Jews and Christians worship?

The Qur'an says so itself, in verse 46 of Surah 29, Al-Ankaboot. Three translations are shown in the link; we'll just go ahead and show all three.

YUSUFALI: And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."
PICKTHAL: And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our Allah and your Allah is One, and unto Him we surrender.
SHAKIR: And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit.

A more detailed argument in favor of this passage can be seen here.

Now, an argument exists as to whether this is enough of a statement to qualify; whether the 'your' in 'our Allah and your Allah' refers to Jews and Christians, or simply other Muslims, and whether the 'Book' or 'Scripture' means the Talmud and Bible, or just the Qur'an.

Remember, though, Islam is known as an Abrahamic faith. Muhummad was only the last of many prophets of Islam. Abraham was another, known as 'Ibrahim' in the Qur'an. Among the others, some of which are more questioned than others but all of which show up in some interpretation or other and some spellings of which are disputed: Adam, Idris, Nuh, Lut, Ismail, Is'haq, Yaqub, Yusuf, Ayyub, Musa, Harun, Dawud, Sulaiman, Ilyas, Al-Yasa, Yunus, Zakaria, Isa, Yahya.

Those names, translated respectively: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Lot, Ishmael, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Zechariah, Jesus, John.

Any further questions? Any of you? What do you think that one, singular God is thinking up there? How do you think this all looks to him, with everybody praising him and fighting for him while at the same time yelling to his other followers that he's not the correct god? He must think you're all stupid. He might love you all, but in the way one loves a dog that will excitedly chase a squirrel, bonk its head into a tree, smear himself in something disgusting, and then walk around pooping on the lawn.

Anyone want to look stupid in front of the Big Guy? Anyone? Anyone want to have a long, depressing conversation with whoever's guarding the entrance to Heaven/Paradise? Then calm down. All of you.

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