Friday, May 14, 2010

Islam Part 2,...God and/or Allah?

Welcome readers to part 2 of my expose on Islam. Today's post will deal specifically with the concept of God in Islam in contrast to God as we as Christian know Him. To recap, in the last post we did brief introduction to Islam and as was highlighted, I mentioned that it will be looked at from a Catholic perspective.

To begin, God or Allah as He is referred to by Muslims(and some Arab Christians) differs greatly from the Triune God revealed to us in both the New and Old Testaments. Stressing the point of absolute monotheism, Islam denies the metaphysical knowledge built upon philosophy as evidenced by many of their most prolific writers including Averoes (Ibn Rushd) or Al-Ghazali. To the muslim mind, God and 'Truth' are indeed one, but it is ultimately stressed that God transcends everything and therefore can compromise what the human intellect can capacitate as an absolute. An example of this could be found in mathematics,.the simple objective truth that 2+2=4 does not need divine Revelation to sustain it. It is a formula based upon natural law and through reason can be discerned as objectively true. Islam, on the other hand would counter and say that should the Qur'an reveal a statement contrary to that absolute, 2+2=5,.then that would be true, because Allah wills it. From this standpoint, we bring up the idea of whether or not God(Allah) can tell a lie or change His mind. To the Christian, this becomes absurd, because God is Truth. In the Qur'an however we see examples of verse abbrogation, (replacing one verse with another...)which subsuquently once again runs into metaphysical problems. Examples of this include posing the question to Islamic scholars over whether or not Jews and Christians are saved, or damned. An entire book can be written on this subject, but I feel this should suffice as a 'primer.'

The Christian concept of God, the Trinity, bases itself on Revelation, substantiated by reason. Saint Augustin wrote on the Trinity that God is Love. This was revealed to us by Jesus, and amplified through human experience and reason. Love has/is/always will be a mystery. The very idea of 'Agape,' or unconditional love finds itself written into the heart of every human being on the planet. God, therefore making man in His image, out of love, freely wants us to love back, not command us into loving Him(Islam) because that would not be love, that would be fear. For 'Love' to be made manifest, it would require a 'Lover' a 'Be-Loved' and the action of 'Loving.' In this relationship, we have expressed the Christian understanding of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Islam, because this is not properly understood, there strict monotheism runs into problems with regards to who God(Allah) is addressing within the silence of eternity.

I know that these posts will be a little deep, but from this starting point (and that is all it is,,.) we can begin to lay a foundation for how muslims think. The next post will be about Muhammed, and his message.

Our Lady of Fatima,....pray for us.


Patrick said...

Your "2+2=4" example reminds me very much of Aquinas' Summa Theologica, in that our human reason will never contradict or disprove God--just the opposite--that our reason PROVES the existence of God: we all concur that something cannot come from nothing, and that something must have always existed to originate everything. Which is why Evolution and Big Bang are okay because they're logic-based, yet, they're just THEORIES that have not been proven. Scientist can opine all they want about how things came to be as they are today, and one day prove it, but how about a discussion on where it all came from?

Jan said...

Marco! How the heck are ya? To answer your question on the blog, yes, I did read Father Amorth. Not the most recent book, which is just unavailable anywhere, but an earlier one--I think it was 1996 or something. So good! He seems to be a good theologian, although I'm not very qualified to make that judgement. Let me put it this way: he cites some impressive people, he knows scripture, the councils.

Marco, you know I said I was working on a post about the abuse crisis, and you visited, but I wasn't finished. I posted it today and I would appreciate your evaluation of it. I'm afraid I was too harsh, too quick to jump to conclusions, maybe just dead wrong. It's about another book you'll appreciate, an analysis of three official Church documents pertinent to homosexuality. Actually, it's related in a funny way to the topic of this post, the understanding that it's bs to say that the God of the Muslims is the same as our God. (Although there's a logic thing going on: if there is a God, there's only one. So in the long run the God of the Muslims is the same as our God because there is no other God. But we're not talking about that, we're talking about is their teaching about their god the same as ours? No. But you have to discuss it today because there are elements within our Church who have taught the opposite and are still teaching it. Well, it's the same with homosexuality. There are elements within our Church who changed the teaching about homosexuality, and still do. I wonder if you'll guess who.

Would you please read it and let me know something? I can take it (have to, if I want to dish it out).

Hey, your word verification thing in this dialogue box is dirte. I like it!

Jan Baker said...

Thanks for visiting the post I was discussing and commenting, Marco.

This post on the nature of God in Islam, and the previous introductory one, is very interesting. It is clear that their understanding of God is very different from Catholic doctrine, and I believe you mean for us to understand this firmly. You are getting us to look at some of the statements of the Council from a theological point of view. This is the thesis of a very recent (2009) work by a theologian named Brunero Gherardini, The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much-Needed Discussion. He says that is what is required now, that we add this new hermeneutic to our artillery, the hermeneutic of theology, and aim it at the Council.

So I conclude that even though on a superficial level, Catholics and Muslims believe in "One God," their understanding if really fundamentally different from ours.
They don't believe in the Trinity, and more on a personal spiritual level (which isn't less important, do you think?) they don't think of God as Father.

I must say I don't appreciate the concept of the Trinity enough, but I sure do connect with the concept of Father. Muslims lack! The next nice Muslim lady I meet, after I thank her for her modesty, I'm going to introduce her to the idea. Now see what you started.