A Short History of Religions: Part-3
By Mohammad Asghar

 

The Birth of Christianity

 

Reconciliation between the two religiously divergent Jewish groups did not stop TIME from pursuing its own course. As it continued on its journey, peoples’ thinking abilities also increased. In many of them greed for wealth and power became much more compelling than in the majority of their compatriots. To satisfy their greed, many among the intelligent and powerful men became kings and emperors.

To expand their sphere of influence and also for plundering others’ wealth, kings and emperors invaded foreign lands and became their occupiers and rulers. While the kings and emperors basked in their glories, the people of the lands they conquered or occupied bore the full burnt of their whims and excesses.

Israel, despite remaining unattractive economically, also went through one foreign occupation after another. One of its conquerors was the Roman King Herod, who occupied Jerusalem in 63 B. C.  Even during the reigns of foreign rulers, the Jewish priests maintained their influence on the kings, and the governors they deputed to rule, on their behalf, over Israel.

When Pilate was ruling Israel from Jerusalem on behalf of his king Herod, another ambitious man emerged among the Jews to grab the high position the Jewish priests then occupied in his country.

Before his appearance on the religious scene of Israel, not much was known about his antecedents. Like a phantom, he arrived from nowhere and declared himself a son of God. He also claimed that his father (God) deputed him among his fellow Jews to rectify some of their priests’ mistaken and erroneous religious practices, which he accused them of incorporating in their scriptures and then practicing them in their temples in order to derive pecuniary benefits for their own good.

What name he was given at birth is not known, but he is now universally known as Jesus Christ. Over two billion people from all over the world worship him today.

As narrated in some scriptures, this man apparently had a lots of miracles associated with his personality. His mother, a virgin, was impregnated, on behalf of God, by an angel. She delivered him in a desert without any human assistance. He talked to people as soon as he was out of his mother’s womb.

Particularly the Muslim scripture implies that Angel Gabriel carries God’s soul, hence his title of “Rooh-ul-Quddus,” i.e. “the soul of God.” Because God cannot exist without Gabriel’s cooperation, He occasionally allows him to impregnate those women He does not have the time, and the desire, to do it Himself. It is an arrangement between God and Gabriel that is expected to remain intact until the last day of our world.

Christ’s ability to talk immediately after birth must have created an unprecedented panic and hysterical fear in all the people of the land. Many must have suffered heart attacks; while others must have gone insane at seeing a newborn talk to them in a clear language.

This was possible, because Christ had in his body God’s genes, which came to him via angel Gabriel, God’s soul. Genes - - Christ had to have, otherwise, he would not have survived in his mother’s womb. Since his mother’s genes alone could not have assured his survival, God’s genes must also have aided him not only with his growth in his mother’s womb; these also helped him with the appearance he wore, as well as with all the activities he undertook in his short but eventful life.

Because Jesus Christ, being a son of God, was a God himself, he never accepted Mary as his mother. He preferred to call her “the woman,” as she was not married to God at the time she conceived him. The celestial God liked his attitude towards Mary; consequently, He never instructed or forced him to call her “mother.”

While discussing the conception and birth of Jesus Christ, the way in which Adam was supposed to have been created by God in heaven also comes to mind.

It is said that God took a handful of dust and mixed it with water. Since heaven does not have any dust, He traveled to earth to collect it, some say, from its four corners. This He had done to enable him to speak in different languages.

With the mud, He made Adam’s statue. Then He had it dried up under the sun. When it became solid, He lifted it to his face, and then breathed life into it.  

These activities clearly indicate that God is a human being, who has hands, feet, eyes and ears. He also breaths like we humans do. His dislike of daughters and His other activities and pronouncements prove that He is a man. Rabbi Howard Eilberg-Schwartz’s study of God’s nature supports this hypothesis (see his book, “God’s Phallus,” published by Beacon Press, Boston).

Adam was the only human being in human history, who did not suffer the pangs of birth, nor did he have to pass through the phases of infancy, childhood, teen-age and adulthood. Soon after his creation, he stood before God as a grown up man.

Contradicting the above-stated information given to us by the Quran, it also states:

“Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out that lump bones and clothed bones with flesh; then We developed out if it another creature. So blessed be God, the Best to create.”[1]

Contrary to the balderdash fed to us by the Muslim scholars, the construction and the language of verse 33:12 clearly indicates that its content refers to the creation of Adam. According to it, God converted Adam’s statue, made of clay, into sperm, which He placed into a woman’s womb, most probably, through a sexual intercourse.

God then turned the sperm into a clot of congealed blood. He then made out of that fetus bones, which He clothed with flesh. And out of the flesh, He developed another creature.

Where the woman, for God to have sexual intercourse with, came from, and how she was created before the creation of Eve is not known. Nor is known the definition of the words “another creature,” However, a Muslim scholar of international repute, says the following in explanation thereof:

“From a mere animal, we now consider man as man. Is it not a Sign of wonder in itself that from dry dust (turab, xxii.5) or inorganic mater should be made protoplasm (moist clay or organic matter); from it should grow a new animal life; and out of it should grow human life, with all its capacities and responsibilities? Man carries within himself Sign of God’s wisdom and power, and he can see them every day in the universe around him.”[2]

If we believe even for a moment that what the Muslim scholar has stated is true, in that event, we must also believe that since Adam and his wife, Eve, came into being without a father and a mother, both of them (Adam and Eve) did not have any genes in their bodies. Consequently, all of their descendants must also have taken their birth without genes having anything to do with them and their existence. 

How all of Adam’s descendants survived and produced offspring of their own is a real miracle (if it exists) that needs a scientific investigation in order to prove that what the religious scriptures tell us is really reliable and true.

Informatively, God is not the real name of God. It is a generic name humans use to refer to different Gods. Some of them are Krishna, Jehovah, Jesus Christ and Allah.

Alarmed by Christ’s activities and the preaching of hatred against the established religious order of Jerusalem, the priests complained to the Roman governor and demanded punishment for him. At first, Pilate, the governor, refused but when the priests threatened to revolt, he caved in and had Jesus Christ crucified on the cross along with two other ordinary thieves.

His crucifixion created no resentment or anger in the general mass, so it seems. But Mary Magdalene, a prostitute, transformed a dead Jesus Christ into a God. Jesus is suspected of having an illicit relationship with this woman.

She convinced those who were willing to listen that she herself saw Christ’s body disappear from his grave. This created a myth and enthusiasm in his followers, who, sensing the benefits a new religion brings to its promoters, started preaching and promoting what is known as Christianity today.

Lured by the expected benefits that a religion also brings to its important personalities and sages, Paul, a Jewish scholar, became a Christian and wrote fourteen chapters of the Book, called the New Testament or Bible, to disseminate what Christ was believed to have said or preached during his three years’ mission. Of course, Paul himself had heard noting directly from Christ’s mouth, though he lived in Israel prior to, and during the time of his God’s crucifixion.

Christianity flourished and spread all over the world. Conversion of some pagan kings, emperors and influential persons to Christianity helped it lay its solid foundation on which it stands firmly even today.

 

The Birth of Islam

Hardly Christianity was a little over six hundred years old, when a greedy and power-hungry man, by the name of Muhammad Mustafa, surfaced from the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. Claiming that he was a Prophet and an Apostle of God, he began the preaching of a new religion he called Islam from the desert city of Mecca in 610 A.D.

The lapse of time, from the birth of Jesus Christ to the time Muhammad surfaced to create history, made the latter cleverer than the former. Moreover, the latter lived in a society, which was more temperate than the one the former lived in. Hence one’s failure and death, and the other’s fame and adulations for his successes.

In the time of Muhammad, the people of the Arabian Peninsula practiced paganism with all vigor and enthusiasm. Surviving basically on the fruit of date-trees, and on lizards and locusts, the majority of them roamed the desert in search of water and green pastures for their cattle, while a small number of them settled down in the tiny towns of Mecca and Medina and Taif et al. The number of people living in each town did not exceed a few thousand.

Unlike Taif and Medina, the climate of Mecca was, and still remains, extreme. Due to its climatic conditions, its residents were never able to produce anything on its soil to support their livelihood.  

Powerful men among the Meccan tribes acted as the keepers of the shrine of Ka’aba, which was located in it, and served as the center of paganism. The keepers of the shrine lived a better and comfortable life. The poor served the pilgrims, who came to the city to worship the idols of the shrine, and lived off their charity; while a small number of the Meccans involved themselves in trade and commerce. They were rich, and powerful, too.

Muhammad grew up herding others’ animals. Though his profession gave him food, but it gave him no physical or mental comforts. A sensitive and intelligent boy, he mused and grieved over his sufferings while finding himself in the monotonous solitude of the arid plain, where the animals of the herd strained their necks in search of a thorn or a blade of grass among the stones and rocks.

In the words of Ali Dashti “Misfortune embitters a person and makes him conscious of sufferings, especially when he is left to himself with nothing to distract him. It may safely be conjectured that in the course of time this child’s thoughts turned to the social system and found in it some sources of his unhappiness. The reason why the other boys of his rank and age led pleasant lives was that their fathers had charge of the Ka’ba. They supplied water, bread, and other requisites to the pilgrims who came to Mecca for the annual ceremonies at the Ka’ba, and they made big profits by selling goods which they imported from Syria dearly and buying produce from pilgrims cheaply. These businesses were the source of their children’s well-being.

Why did so many tribes sustain the wealth and power of the Qooraysh by coming to the Ka’ba? The reason was that the Ka’ba housed famous idols and contained the black stone which the Arabs held sacred. They thought that walking around the Ka’ba would bring happiness and salvation and that running between the nearby hills of Safa and Marwa, on the top of which two more idols had been placed, was necessary to make prayers effective. Each group of pilgrims had to shout its entreaties to its idol while circumambulating the Ka’ba and running from Safa to Marwa.

Mohammad’s keen eye and intelligence {two of the essential qualities, with which almost all Bedouins are equipped for surviving in the wilderness and uncertainties of deserts} must have prompted him, at the age of eleven or twelve, to start wondering whether any force lay concealed in the black stone and any action could proceed from the lifeless statues. His doubts may well have arisen form a personal experience. It is by no means improbable that in his sorrow and spiritual anguish he had hopefully addressed fervent pleas to the idols and obtained no result. This hypothesis is supported by verses in two suras {of the Quran} which poured from his mouth thirty years later: “Have no more to do with the filth!” (I.e. the idols); sura 74, verse 5, and “Did not He find you astray and guide you?” (sura 93, verse 7).

… In the darkness of the night the stirrings would give way to visions, and in the morning sunshine they would recommence when he was back in the monotonous desert. Little by little they took shape in his inner mind.

An introvert personality, prone to musing and dreaming, undistracted by clatter and deprived of normal pleasures, would become introverted with the passage of every year spent alone in the desert. Then, suddenly, a ghost might appear or a splashing of waves on an unknown sea might be heard.”[3]

And a ghost did appear to Muhammad when he was sleeping in a cave of Mount Hira. The appearance of the ghost was the result of a shrewd and manipulative plan he had worked out to fulfill his dream of striping the Meccan merchants of their wealth, and the Ka’aba’s priests of their priestly positions.

At the age of twenty-five, he married a rich widow, fifteen years his senior. This unusual act for an Arab brought him wealth, and wealth brought him closer to the people he wanted to use for achieving his objectives. His marriage with the elderly lady also introduced him to a conspiracy she and her cousin, Waraqa ibn Nofal, were hatching for some time. They wished to see paganism among the people of the Arabian Peninsula replaced by a monotheistic religion.

Muhammad saw his own opportunity in their plan, and agreed to collaborate with them. A lay man on the doctrinal aspects of Judaism and Christianity, he often visited the cave for receiving training on them from Waraqa. Suhaib ibn Sinan, another tutor, well versed in the practices of Judaism and Christianity, is also believed to have couched him on the subjects.

The appearance of the ghost, otherwise known as angel Gabriel, before Muhammad in the cave was in accordance with the plan he, Khudeija, his wife and Waraqa, her cousin, had drawn up for eradicating paganism from their land. Had they not collaborated with Muhammad about the physical appearance of the angel, it would have been almost impossible for them not only to commence their mission; it would also have made their plan a certain failure.

What had happened after Muhammad announced his mission is known to almost all of us. Therefore, instead of incorporating in this narrative all the events that led to the establishment of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, an effort would be made to examine the factors, which enabled Muhammad to succeed in his mission. 

Like Jesus Christ, Muhammad also knew that a political figure or a religious leader cannot succeed without having as many followers as was possible. In keeping with this reality, he, at the initial stage of his mission, sought, and won over the support of three important persons of Mecca. They were Abu Bakr, Othman and Omar. Without their help and support, Islam would have become an insignificant tale of the past.

Benefits that result from following a political or religious leader were the baits that induced them to become his collaborators, as well as to put in their best efforts to make him successful. Their decisions and efforts paid off, when all the three greedy and illiterate men ascended, one after another, the throne of the Islamic caliphate after their leader’s death.

Through them, Muhammad tried to win over the pagans of Mecca. Since the pagans were united in the matters of their religion, he and his surrogates failed miserably in their efforts.

Even the assumption of the title of al-Amin (worthy of all trust) by Muhammad did not help his cause. The pagans knew that prophets like Noah, Hud and Salih[4] et al also had employed the same trick to deceive their people. Consequently, the pagans refused not only to fall in Muhammad’s trap; they also rejected his messages with disgust and contempt. Disappointed, Muhammad and his cohorts turned to the slaves and the down-trodden men and women of their town.

After making their best efforts, they were able to convert only about one hundred slaves and have-nots to Islam over a long period of about thirteen years. And that, too, after spending on them all the wealth Khudeija, Muhammad’s wife, had gathered through her long and hard efforts.

The situation in Medina was different. Here the pagans were divided. Moreover, a good number of them had become Muhammad’s propagandists even before his migration to their city.

Most importantly, the prospect of sharing booty to be seized by Muhammad from the Jews - - an incentive that was not available to the Meccan pagans - - also accelerated the Medinese pagans’ conversion to Islam.

In short, no so-called divine help was involved in Muhammad’s success. He succeeded in his mission, because he was cunning and brutal and also because time and circumstances had favored him and his cohorts.

Additionally, Muhammad’s policy of offering carrot to those who stood by him, and sticks to those who opposed him also played a major role in his success. Perhaps, it was the brutal execution of his plan that inspired the 19th century French Martinist cult philosopher Joseph de Maistre to become obsessed with the personality of the executioner. It was this obsession that made him to propagate: “All grandeur, all power, all subordination to authority rests on the executioner; he is the horror and the bond of human association. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world, and at that very moment, order gives way to chaos; thrones topple and society disappears.”

True to Maistre’s words, Muhammad himself was a horror; by using his horrific tactics, he united the ever-warring tribes of his land under the banner of a forcibly imposed religion, called Islam. And when he died, they went back to their old ways of life. Abu Bakr, his first successor, killed thousands of them in the first year of his caliphate in order to bring the remainder of them back to a religion all Muslims do not hesitate to call peace-loving and God-sent.


[1] Verse 33:12-14.

[2] Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Quran, vol. 2, p. 876.

[3] Twenty-three Years, pp. 11 & 12.

[4] Quran; verses 26: 107, 125, 143.




To Be Continued to part-4.

Mohammad Asghar writes from USA. 

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