Monday, August 16, 2004

Mohammed the High Jacker Part II - Paganism, Christianity and Islam

As in most religions, Islam has many of it's derivatives in the Pagan culture of it's birth place. Mohammed and his birth family were Pagans. His grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, was the guardian of the sacred place, the Kaba [place of worship]in Mecca. Here is where Mohammed was born and why it remains important. It is also the place where the sacred black stone sits, around which the devout Muslim will walk when performing the Hajj (sacred trip) to Mecca.

True believers of Islam will insist that Islam is the true religion that existed since the beginning of time, even before Christianity and Judaism and that Mohammed practiced this religion all his life. He was born into it.

This seems to be contradicted in a few areas. Although, all of the stories continue to refer Allah and the prophet of Allah, including his birth and youth:

It is recorded that when the mother of the apostle of Allah became pregnant with him she had a vision, and a voice spoke to her, saying, ‘Thou art pregnant with the prince of this nation. When he is born on this earth, thou must say, “I place him under the protection of the only One, from the wickedness of every envious person.” And thou must name him Muhammad.’

This is written sometime after Mohammed was dead and appears to be an attempt to legitimize Islam. First by indicating that Mohammed was a direct descendent of Abraham, some 2500 years later and then legitimizing parts of their rituals by insisting that Abraham participated in the same. A particular ritual includes performing the "Hajj", which includes making a trip to Mecca and walking several times around the Ka'bah (black stone). According to this site, Abraham performed the Hajj:

Like all the rituals of Islam, Abraham was the first receiver of Hajj ritual. He passed these rituals from one generation to another. Corruption found its way to these rituals over the years. We are blessed because God sent us a messenger from among us to purify and clarify for us these rituals after a long period of corruption.

[al-Ma'idah 5:19] O people of the scripture, our messenger has come to you, to explain things to you, after a period of time without messengers, lest you say, "We did not receive any preacher or warner." A preacher and warner has now come to you. GOD is Omnipotent.

[Ibrahim 14:4] We did not send any messenger except (to preach) in the tongue of his people, in order to clarify things for them. GOD then sends astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. He is the Almighty, the Most Wise.

As with Christianity that celebrates Jesus's birth during the winter solstice, a pagan holiday selected by Justinian of Constantinople to provide a day of worship, Islam does the same for the Hajj. Hajj is performed during "the birth of the new moon of the month of Zu Al-Hijja signals the beginning of the four months of Hajj".

The Qu'ron quickly shuts down anyone asking why this particular period is selected:

[2:189] They ask you about the phases of the moon! Say, "They provide a timing device for the people, and determine the time of Hajj." It is not righteous to beat around the bush; righteousness is attained by upholding the commandments and by being straightforward. You shall observe GOD, that you may succeed.

In other words, don't ask, don't tell. The reality is that this period is within the four months of winter into spring, during which time you are conveniently forbidden to hunt, make war, etc. I say "conveniently" because there isn't much else to do. Further, worshipping or performing other rituals based on the movement of the sun or moon is a habit of ancient peoples that worshiped either or as the controller of their destinies (which they were). This is probably based on any number of paganistic beliefs from that area. Either Egyptian Sun and Moon God and Goddess or the Persian Goddess "Islah" or "Ishtar", both which were represented by the moon in pictures and other symbols.

During this Hajj, many Muslim seek the "blessing" of the stone and kiss it (rather like the blarney stone). The fact that they go to the place where a stone resides to complete this religious trek pretty much reeks of paganism. Trying to tie Abraham to it, seems a little funny as well. Some orthodox Muslims consider seeking this blessing as idolatry. Probably is considering it is obviously based on an ancient paganistic ritual.

The second tale-tell that Islam did not exist before Mohammed is a simple statement made by his tribesman on visiting a Christian Monk:

one of the Quraysh exclaimed, ‘I swear by al-.Lat and by al‑Uzza that we are at fault for excluding the son of Abdullah from partaking with us of this dinner!”

Al-Lat and Al Uzza are idols or gods. However, to establish that Mohammed is a true believer in only one God since the time he was born, the story goes on:

When the people had finished eating and dispersed Bahira addressed the apostle of Allah as follows, ‘I adjure you by al‑Lat at‑Uzza; answer the questions I shall ask.’ (Bahira used these words because he had heard the Quraysh swearing by these two idols.) It is said that the apostle of Allah replied, ‘Do not ask me by a]‑Lat and by al‑Uzza; for, by Allah, I have never hated anything more intensely than these two.’ Bahira continued, I adjure you by Allah to answer what I shall ask’, and the apostle of Allah said, ‘Ask me what thou wilt.’

Basically, Mohammed is born into a Pagan society and is alledgedly not a Pagan himself, but automatically a monotheist. Even though the story goes to some links to talk about Mohammed being taken everywhere in the caravan with his uncle and meeting Christians and Jews alike. In this story, Mohammed is given further legitimacy, in the same way that Christ was given in the temple at the age of 12, when the Christian Monk and Hermit Bahira took notice of the boy and began to ask him questions:

Accordingly he put to him various questions about his state during sleep, and his condition and circumstances, to which the apostle of Allah gave replies which agreed with what Bahira expected of him. Then Bahira looked on his back and discovered the seal of prophecy between his shoulders.

In other words, a Christian recognizes that Mohammed is an important prophet at a young age. If you believe the Qu'ron at it's face value. However, it is blatantly obvious that this is the beginning of the story of Islam and the teller (verbally handed down from Mohammed himself) is seeking legitimacy among the existing religions of the time.

Further bestowing a Christ like entity on Mohammed, Bahira asks Mohammed's uncle some questions:

After he had examined the boy, Bahira went to Abu Talib [father of the student] and asked, ‘What is this boy to you?’ He replied, ‘My son! Bahira rejoined, ‘He is not your son, nor is there any need for this boy to have a father living.’

Which is tantamount to proclaiming Mohammed as the Son of God in an immaculate conception without directly saying it and equating Mohammed with God, which is either idolatry or polytheism depending.

Then of course, you have a latter day version of Herrod, king of the Jews or some other representative of the Jews that will do him harm because he is the prophesied one:

Bahira said, ‘You have spoken the truth. Return with your nephew to his country, and guard him from the Jews; for, by Allah, if they see him and know about him what I know, they will try to injure him, because something very great will happen to this nephew of yours. Therefore make haste to return with him to his country.’

Which is pretty much the story of Mary and Joseph leaving Bethlehem just in time to avoid King Harrod slaughtering all of the first born males in order to wipe out this potential threat to Judea. And, no Christ like story would be complete without the three wise men who were originally sent to harm the boy, but turned away. Of course, in Christ's story, they brought him gifts instead. In this case, the gift for Mohammed was his life:

According to the legend current among the people, three Christians or Jews named Zurayr, Tammam, and Daris, had the same information about the apostle of Allah as Bahira had. When they saw the boy during this same journey with his uncle Abu Talib, and contemplated doing him some harm, Bahira warned them against it and reminded them of God and of the description they would find in the scriptures; he said, too, that even if they persisted in their intention they could not carry it out. At last they understood and believed what he said, and they departed.

Here, not only do you see the story parallel that of Christ through different times, but you also see Islam seeking legitimacy amongst the established religions of Judaism and Christianity, while, at the same time, establishing the first seeds of animosity between the religions as well. If the story holds any legitimacy, the things we know about Mohammed so far is:

  • He was born in Mecca
  • He was orphaned
  • He travelled a lot with his Uncle
  • He had interactions with people of all faiths during his time with the caravans
  • He most likely heard stories from Jewish and Christian travellers or hosts of the caravan and used them much later in life to weave his own miraculous story.

In the next installment, we will review the time leading up to and immediate after Mohammed's revelations of Islam and his interaction between the established Jewish and Christian communities.


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Robert said...

Kat- I'm quite weary right now. I can't read all of these at once. Hehe, lots of meat in your posts. Just wanted you to know I still exist... I haven't fallen off of the face of the earth...

ALa said...

You should have been a Professor Kat...I think you are in the wrong line of work!

Nas said...

I second Robert's comment. WHOA!!! I haven't time to add several ideas I've been forming to my own site, but those can wait and simmer in my subconscience till I have time to read what you have first. *IF* I have time before you throw 8 more up. How do you do it?

Kat said...

No worries mates! I'm in SD on business so I will be busy for a few posting. You'll have time to catch up. LOL

Ala71...thanks. I am really learning this as I go. I am trying to understand it the best I can.

As i began studying, the very first thing that struck me was the similarities to Christianity and Judaism including some celebrations like passover, which is easter, which is some sort of fasting holiday for Muslims and the fact that Hannuka, 12 days of Christmas and Ramadan are within a similar time frame.

The Mohammed story struck me right off as a knock off of Jesus's birth or the prophesy of the messiah. The only difference is that Mohammed continues to exert himself as only a man and that his people should avoid at all cost associating him with God/Allah.

Which is funny becaue all you ever hear is "Mohammed, Pease Be upon Him (PBUH)" which is damn close to the Christian "In the name of our Lord"...

I wonder if any Muslim scholars ever notice this?

Robert said...

I finally read it.

Good post.

You have a point of the parallels. Don't forget that Moses too was sent in a basket downstream to avoid being killed, and that Jesus' narrow escape from Herod is much like that of Moses. (Thats quickly said, and may not be *totally* correct)

Kat said...

Robert..I didn't put that here, but I did study that in my Biblical literature class. Many of the important prophets had the same kind of life stories.

For instance, Moses was in a real sense a sort of messiah for the Israelites. He saved them. He led them from slavery.

I have often wondered if all of the historians or biographers of these prophets, knew the other stories and used them to give legitimacy to the newest prophet. Just like Mohammed. The teachings were not enough. They had to show that they were somehow connected to or "ordained" by, these other prophets.

Robert said...

Jesus paralleled Moses in many ways.

Jesus and Moses were both givers of the law. Moses descended from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, and Jesus expanded on the Beatitudes with the Sermon on the Mount.