In the Western World we take it for granted that there is an open forum for debate and discussion of religious issues, and anyone is free to follow whatever religion they choose. We also take for granted that we are free to evangelise others, provided we do it peacefully, and people can change from one religion to another. Not so in the Muslim World, where the followers of all other religions, including Jews, Christians and Bahais are reduced to "dhimmi" status, so that they are second-class citizens and do not have equal rights with Muslims.
While dhimmi status is applied to all non-Muslims, including those who were brought up as non-Muslims, those who are converts from Islam are treated much more severely, often with threats to their lives. See The Penalties for Apostasy in Islam.
Islam tolerates other religions only in countries where Muslims are a minority. As soon as Islam becomes the majority religion, all other religions are persecuted. For a discussion of the persecution of Christians, including details of specific incidents, see Project Open Book.
Why is Islam so intolerant, and why do they so relentlessly persecute those who have converted from Islam? The answer is that Islam, unlike other religions, does not allow open debate. Muslims are not allowed to question Islam. They are just expected to accept it and anyone who has doubts about Islam is considered to be an Apostate. Converts from Islam are persecuted, not because of what they have been converted to, but because of what they have been converted from. They are dragged before the Sharia courts and charged with "Apostasy from Islam".
Why does Islam so relentlessly stifle open discussion and debate? The only possible answer is that they have got something to hide, and they are afraid that if it became known, the whole system would fall apart.
In the days of Muhammed, there used to be 360 gods at the Kaaba in Mecca, including "Allah" who was the god of the Kuraish tribe to which Muhammed belonged. Muhammed abolished all the other gods and declared that only Allah was to be worshipped. This, so far, is common knowledge among Muslims but is rarely a topic for open debate.
What is not so well known, is that Allah has a long pre-history that goes back to ancient Babylon and Sumer, as far back as 2300 BC and maybe even further. Allah is identified by a variety of names such as Alala, Allallu, Ilani, Ilah and Enlil, which are all derivatives of LIL. Historians are agreed that this was one god among a pantheon of other gods, and was sometimes worshipped as a "high god". However there is disagreement about the precise nature of the pre-Islamic Allah. Some believe it was a moon god. Others believe it was a male sun god that went around with three goddesses. There was moon goddess called Allat and a stellar goddess called Al-Uzza who was Venus, giving the origin of the crescent moon and star of Islam. The third was a goddess of fate and destiny called Manat.
Islam has been ostensibly monotheistic since the days when Muhammed and his followers successfully disposed of the other gods, although the roots of Islam are, at best, henotheistic, which means belief in one god without asserting that he is the only god. If it is true that the crescent moon and star represent Allat and Al-Uzza, then Islam today is still honouring these goddesses and is henotheistic rather than monotheistic.
The Crescent Moon and Star
Gideon arose ... and took the crescent ornaments that were on their camel's necks. (Judges 8:21, NKJV)
For a detailed discussion of the things you were never allowed to know, see the following:
Balaam's Ass Publishing - Al Hajj Ya Allah. The pilgrimage of Allah from Sumer to Mecca.
Chick Publications. Information on Islam
Research and Education Foundation - Truth Seekers page on Islam.
When an Arab tells a story he starts off with "Kan ma kan, fi qadim azzaman" which means "It was so, it was not so, in a time long ago". Salman Rusdie gives a more liberalised translation "It was so, it was not, in a time long forgot".
The story is like this:
Muhammed went up to the mountain to speak with the angel Gabriel and was given the following verses which became part of Sura 53.
19. Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,
20. And Manat, the third, the last? These are the exalted females whose intercession is to be desired.
The last sentence, about the "exalted females", caused him some trouble. His struggle against the idols of Mecca had been compromised, so he went back to the mountain to talk to the angel Gabriel and get the text clarified. He came to the conclusion that he had received the offending text, not from Gabriel himself, but from Satan impersonating Gabriel. He cut it out of the Quran, and continued the Sura so that the complete passage up to verse 27 is as follows:
19. Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,
20. And Manat, the third, the last?
21. What! for you the males and for Him the females!
22. This indeed is an unjust division!
23. They are naught but names which you have named, you and your fathers; Allah has not sent for them any authority. They follow naught but conjecture and the low desires which (their) souls incline to; and certainly the guidance has come to them from their Lord.
24. Or shall man have what he wishes?
25. Nay! for Allah is the hereafter and the former (life).
26. And how many an angel is there in the heavens whose intercession does not avail at all except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses.
27. Most surely they who do not believe in the hereafter name the angels with female names.
Muhammed appears to have denounced these idols outright with the phrase "They are naught but names", but then he offered them the status of angels. Verses 21 and 27 give the real reason why he didn't want these goddesses. It wasn't because they were idols, but because they were female. He considered it unfair that Allah only had daughters while humans can have sons. It seems like a half-hearted way of denouncing idols, but this is apparently what Muhammed did.
That's the end of the story, which was so, or was not so, but the sequel is that thirteen centuries later the Ayatollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of Iran, issued a death threat against the British author, Salman Rushdie, just for telling it in his book called the Satanic Verses. Rushdie went into hiding, under police protection, and has been there since 1989. When the storm broke, thousands of people who would not otherwise have heard of the Satanic Verses, went out and bought the book to see what all the fuss was about. Although it was a satirical novel, the continuing enforced seclusion of it's author means that people began to take it seriously, and some have even written commentaries on it.
Muhammed was the prophet of Islam during the 7th century, from 610 AD until his death in 632 AD. A number of Islamic historians, from the 8th to the 10th centuries, attempted to deny that the story of Muhammed and his offending verses ever occurred. One of these was Tabari who, according to Rushdie, invented the term "Satanic Verses". The volume of denials is in itself a give-away, because it means there must have been something to deny. Clearly some Muslims at the time believed it was true, but nobody today can prove it one way or the other.
There is a passage in the Quran that suggests a verse might have been given by Satan and then withdrawn by Allah. Sura 22:52 says:
And We did not send before you any apostle or prophet, but when he desired, the Shaitan made a suggestion respecting his desire; but Allah annuls that which the Shaitan casts, then does Allah establish His communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise,...
It doesn't matter that this was in a different part of the Quran, because the Quran was not assembled in any particular order. It was written on leaves, animal skins and pieces of wood, and then apparently thrown together at random.
For a detailed discussion of the historicity of the story of Muhammed and his offending text, see Satanic Verses.
The Quran itself is available at the Wiretap Gopher Site.
Islam and Peace. Muslims are trying to change the image of Islam by suggesting that the word Islam means "Peace", on the grounds that it can be identified with Salaam, the traditional Arabic greeting. While they might get away with this in the Western World they would not fool anyone who speaks Arabic. Although Islam and Salaam come from the same root, they are entirely different. Islam means "Submission" and Salaam means "Peace". Muhammed used to sign off his letters with Aslem, Taslam! which means "Surrender and you will be safe", or in other words, "Surrender or die".
Light of Life. Investigate Islam from a Christian point of view.
Updated March 2002
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