Sunday, May 12, 2013

( 2 ) " Islam and the Abrahamic Faiths."

By Sodium

In this topic, Professor Graham E. Fuller, author of  " A World Without Islam " presents a provocative argument not only on Islam, but also on Christianity and Judaism as well. To outline his argument in a connective and comprehensive manner, one may do so by concentrating on the essence of his argument in a condensable, but at the same time understandable fashion:

~  Islam is an Abrahamic faith, just as Judaism and Christianity are. In fact, Islam considers The Prophet Abraham a Muslim. A verse in the Qur'an is so explicit on this point.

~  All three Abrahamic religions are closely connected. Islam is the complementary to both Judaism and Christianity.

~  The differences that exist among the three Abrahamic religions have been magnified "by politics for political ends."

~  The region, meaning the Middle East, had experienced " geopolitical tension " since time immemorial, way back before the appearance of Islam in the Seventh Century A.D.

~  Such a " geopolitical tension," in the Middle East has " persisted even after Islam appeared " and until present time.

~  The Middle East region has been a sort of mosaic in cultures, social and political divide through out its own recorded history.

~  Islam was capable of absorbing such a mosaic, but at the same time was capable of representing and perpetuating such a cultural, social, and political mosaic.

~ Although the author of the book, " A World Without Islam," pays due respect to the Prophets of the three Abrahamic religions, as Prophets of Gods, he stresses the argument that all of them were influenced by the environments, conditions, and circumstances they lived in and encountered.

~  Although Islam is a universal religion, it remains a product of the Middle Eastern environments as Christianity and Judaism are.

~  An interesting point the author stresses upon is orthodoxy that exists in each one of the three Abrahamic religions. The author has made the point that the problem is in the orthodoxy of each religion, not in the religion itself.

Any reader who is interested in knowing the details of  the above outline should consult the pages of the book directly.

The following quotations may help clarifying some of the thoughts the author has intended to convey to the readers of this topic:

Quotation One: " Power invariably attracts religion and religion attracts power. Theology is secondary. Furthermore, the enduring forces of culture, time, tradition, history, and beliefs are powerful; they possess great ability to bend new events into well-trodden channels. Islam, for all its new and incredible civilizational brilliance, was very much a product of its larger environment."

Quotation Two: " Religion is an exceptionally powerful human force. It deals with gut issues such as the meaning of life, death, war, moral behavior,, community, and sexuality.
Given the extraordinary power of  this force, can we be surprised that seats of world power should seek to harness the force of religion to their own ends ?  Such is a key focus of this book: the relationship among religion, power, and the state. The state ultimately seeks to adopt and take over religion, making it " state religion." Once tied to the state, the religion's doctrines and theology then become linked to state prestige, power, and control. The religion can be Judaism, Christianity, or Islam; it does not really matter."

Quotation Three: " It appears the world can be divided into two distinct psychological mind-sets. There are those who seek EXCLUSIVITY, who seek to draw boundaries between themselves and others, who wish to see their own beliefs as unique, quite distinct from what others believe, views in which they themselves are right and the others wrong. On the other side, there are those whose goal it is to search out common ground among beliefs, shared points of overlapping inclusivity and commonality. This happens even among believers of the same faiths. As one wise man put it: " They drew a square and left me out; I drew a circle and included them." "

Quotation Four: " Islam did not come as a theological shock to the region. But it did serve the interests of geopolitical powers of the region just as Christianity did. Thus, most of our story will involve interplay of states with religions ; at that point the power and goals of the state dominate any independent role of religion. This reality sets an important stage for a key argument of this book: that most of the history of the West's relations with the Middle East is really about the geopolitics of empires and states and not much about religion itself-regardless of the slogans, banners, and ideological fervor invoked at the popular level to support the state. Take Islam out of the equation, and there is a very good chance you'd still find the Middle East at loggerheads with the West."

Note: Next topic will be topic ( 3 ) " Power, Heresay , and the Evolution of  Christianity."   



  1. How could the author separate orthodoxy from religion? Is not orthodoxy an essential part of religions?

    Sodium:I would like reading your own views on this.

  2. Moses,

    This is only one of the several reasons I have already described the book as provocative. As I continue exploring and outlining the rest of the topics embodied in the book, interested readers like yourself may encounter more of the author's critical thinking, concerning all three Abrahamic religions. And exactly such critical thoughts, (or at least such thoughts I personally have never encountered before), that have compelled me to pay more attention to the content of the book and attempt to explore it for my own desire to learn and share what I may learn with the interested readers of this website.

    Although I wish to keep the focus of this series on what the author of the book have wanted to convey to the readers of his book, I will overlook my intended focus, and attempt answering your question based on my own understanding of what the author meant by saying that the problem is in orthodoxy, not in religion:

    All three Abrahamic religions have all sort of adherents. Some of those adherents interpret the essence of their religion in a positive and tolerable manner. On the other hand, there are adherents who interpret the essence of their religion in a negative manner, in the sense that their religion is the only right religion to follow and every other religion is wrong. Such kind of adherents leave no space for tolerance, whatsoever. It seems to me that the author has meant by the word orthodoxy such an intolerance that regrettably exists in each of the three Abrahamic religions, with no exception.

    Of course, I will not rule out of being wrong in my understanding of what the other has meant when he has stated that the problem is in orthodoxy, not in religion.

    Well, Moses, that is the best I could do for answering your question. Hope it helps..

  3. Yes, I agree that Mr. Graham Fuller, the author of "A World Without Islam" presents here a bold new argument I have not read before. I look forward to read the rest of the topics as I have understood already planned.

    Sodium: thank you, for taking your time to review and explore the content of the book in a profound manner. May God bless your efforts.

  4. Warren,

    I do hope that the rest of the topics of the detailed review of the book, " A World Without Islam, " will be up to your expressed interest in reading the whole series of topics. It is important to me the satisfaction and quality of the readers who follow what is published on this website.

    And thank you for your interest and blessings.