Op-Ed: The Trouble with Islam (Or, How Islam Made ISIS)
Judaism, the original monotheistic faith began with the patriarch Abraham almost 4000 years ago, coincidentally, in almost the same part of Iraq where Yazidi women are right now being herded away in Toyota pick-up trucks to become slaves and Jihadi wives.
Aristotle once said, "The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand fold." Such is the nature of modern-day Islam, who’s bloody and barbaric atrocities are driving large swathes of our planet back into a new dark age. How did a monotheistic religion, part of the so-called 'Abrahamic' triad of faiths that are considered to have civilized mankind, go so crucially wrong?
The answer may lie in the fact that Islam, like Christianity, is an offshoot of Judaism. And like sequels, they tend to be a lot more expensive and a lot less successful. Judaism, the original monotheistic faith began with the patriarch Abraham almost 4000 years ago, coincidentally, in almost the same part of Iraq where Yazidi women are right now being herded away in Toyota pick-up trucks to become slaves and Jihadi wives.
Fast forward a few thousand years and we introduce Islam's founder, Mohammad, who learned much of the principles for his new faith from the Jewish tribes that lived in Arabia at that time. According to Islam, Mohammad is supposed to have then received a divine revelation - the Koran, from the angel Gabriel while secluded at the top of a mountain, Jabal an-Nour, near Mecca.
And it’s here that our deviation from Judaism begins. Anyone can question and doubt a revelation if the man on the receiving end was alone with nobody to confirm the authenticity of the miracle. Contrast this to Judaism, where a divine revelation also occurs – funnily enough, also on a mountain top. But even a cursory reading of the Biblical Exodus chapter shows that the revelation occurred in plain view of the entire nation of Israel - and not any single man. Strike one against Islam.
Stay with me:
The only way a divine revelation without multiple witnesses can be substantiated is if the witness is reputed to be completely truthful. In effect he must be a perfect human being. To make the story believable then, Islamic scholars take the logical next step: "Of course Mohammad's story is to believed," they must say, "since he never lied or did any wrong throughout his entire life." Again, let's contrast with the mother faith. The bible is replete with imperfect messiahs and leaders who stray from the course, starting with Adam down to every one of the Kings of Israel. Moses himself, despite being the greatest of all the Hebrew prophets, is chastised by God on a number of occasions, even being refused entry to the Promised Land due to his sins.
The result is that in Judaism, unlike Islam, leaders, prophets, even the greatest of men, are merely human - their frailties and sins written right into the spotlight of the biblical texts. Strike two.
Meanwhile, in Islam, Mohammad, who is the sole recipient of the divine message and now a perfect character witness, naturally becomes the ideal role model to his future followers who seek to emulate his life and deeds. This is where Islam takes the final and fatal twist away from its Jewish roots. In Judaism, the characters of even the greatest men are dissected to reveal even their smallest imperfections – a lesson in humility to its followers. This critical process is designed to warn Judaism's adherents away from the over-adulation of mere people and instead, keep firmly focused on their God - a God who we know surprisingly little about, except that he is of limitless love, mercy and forgiveness.
The central problem with Islam though, is that it has substituted the worship of an all-merciful and forgiving God with the worship of an all-powerful human man.
Bad perhaps, but can it be changed? Unfortunately the answer is no. Because the problem doesn’t end with the adulation of one man. Where the God of Judaism is infinite and in many respects remote to the problems of everyday life, the application of human judgment and common-sense to moral questions is demanded. In effect, in Judaism God takes a ‘back-seat’ and man makes the final call. This enables Judaism as a faith, but more importantly Jews as a society and a community to adapt to the times and remain innovative despite being one of the most ancient peoples.
But the opposite is true in Islam. Since the laws and customs of Islam and Sharia are based on the documented deeds of Mohammad, they are by nature clear, rigid and closed for all time to any interpretation or reform of the God-given word.
And so here we are today with groups such as Boko Haram, Hamas, Al Qaida and ISIS. With Mohammad’s happy progeny living frozen in time. Free to torture and behead their enemies. Free to kidnap and rape infidel women after murdering their husbands, fathers and brothers in front of their very eyes. Free to marry pre-pubescent girls, amputate limbs, stone adulterers to death and even kill their own children for the sake of honor. In their minds they are performing the highest of good deeds by emulating the life of their supreme leader and role model – even if that life was lived over 1400 years ago in a very different age, where people lived by very different norms.
Islam can never change. And it’s more than one billion adherents remain trapped in a downward spiral of violence and misery where only the strong enjoy any temporary honor or wellbeing – and that at the expense of their own brethren and neighbors. It is my hope that Muslims eventually wake up to the futility of their totalitarian ideology; sorry, I cannot grace it with the title of religion. But my guess is it may take a few million deaths and immeasurable suffering before that happy day comes.