Above — The Kaaba (“Cube”), Islam’s Holiest Site, in the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, Saudi Arabia

“In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
 Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of worlds.”
 Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
 Master of the Day of Judgment.
 You do we worship, and Your aid we seek.
 Show us the straight way.”
             — The Holy Quran,1:6 1

“All the world’s major religions contain both factual errors and poetic wisdom.  So do Homer’s Odessey; Melville’s Moby Dick, and Aesop’s Fables.”  — your author, J.X. Mason 

Overview of Islam

In prior Essays, we evaluated four religions: the Religion Taught by Jesus, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism-&-Zen together as a pair.  All these Spiritual Paths contain great wisdom about the meaning and purpose of life.  But much of this wisdom is poetic and mythical.  Nature’s Continuing Creation succeeds the old religions with a Path of Meaning and Purpose that is based on Nature, Science, & History.  Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation does not replace, it succeeds.

In this Essay we discuss Islam.  One-quarter of Earth’s people are Muslim, making Islam the world’s second largest religion, after Christianity.

All religions deal with similar topics, including the nature of God, morality, finding peace of mind, and what happens after death.  We will describe Islam’s position on each important topic; and point out Islam’s Strengths and Shortcomings from the viewpoint of The Path of Continuing Creation (“C.C.”).

For example, below are two abbreviated lists: a list of Islam’s Strengths and a List of Islam’s Shortcomings … as seen from the viewpoint of the Path of Continuing Creation.

Sample Strengths (Things that Islam, as a Spiritual Path, Gets Right):

  • Makes clear distinction between right and wrong
  • Teaches the efficacy of positive action – deeds matter.
  • Teaches that humans should behave.
  • Teaches that law is very important for the coherence of a people.

 Sample Shortcomings (Things that Islam, as a Spiritual Path, Gets Wrong):

  • Sees God as a super-person; not as a set of natural processes as C.C does.
  • Promotes the Quran as the direct and infallible Word of God
  • Like other Old Religions, Islam is not consistent with science, including evolution.
  • Islam still practices a yearly animal sacrifice, called Qurban.

The Strengths and Shortcomings in these lists are discussed in the text of this Essay, along with discussions of additional Strengths and Shortcomings.

Islam, Social Islamism, and Political Islamism

From the outset, we must distinguish between the Religion of Islam, Social Islamism, and Political Islamism

We will use a combination of three names to divide this Essay into three Sections: 

  1. Islam – The Religion
  2. Social Islamism – Human rights under Islamic governance.
  3. Political Islamism – War, forced conversion, ethnic cleansings, theocracy, jihadism.

“Political Islamism is a political ideology which says that modern states and regions should be reconstituted in constitutional, economic and judicial terms, to accord with a return to authentic Islamic practice in its totality.” 2

Because  Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation is a Practice, (our way to find Meaning and Purpose in Life) we are most interested in Islam as religion and spiritual path.  We also have a strong interest in the Social governance of Muslims.  We are less interested in (and less qualified to talk about) Political Islamism.  Nevertheless, Political Islamism brings another set of Shortcomings to the world stage.

The Religion of Islam

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion, centered primarily around the Quran, a religious text that is considered by Muslims to be the direct word of the God of Abraham (or Allah) as it was revealed to Muhammad, the main and final Islamic prophet. It is the world’s second-largest religion with more than two billion followers, comprising around 25 percent of the global population. 3

The word “Islam” comes from the word “al-silm” which means “peace and surrender.” The God in Islam is referred to as “Allah,” which in Arabic means “the god” or “the deity.” A person who believes and practices the religion of Islam is called a Muslim. The founder of Islam was the Prophet Muhammad (570-632, CE).

Islam is the third of the great “Abrahamic Religions” – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which claim the Old Testament’s Abraham as their earliest ancestor, and all of which follow the “One and Only God,” who was called YHWH (Yahweh), Jehovah, or Allah at various times by various peoples.  Believers in Islam, called Muslims, call God Allah. Thus, Allah is not a newly invented deity worshiped exclusively by Muslims. Muslims hold that Allah is the Old Testament’s “God of Abraham” — the same God worshipped by Jews and Christians.

Islam teaches that God is unique, all-powerful, and merciful. Muslims believe that Allah has guided humanity through the speech of various prophets, revealed scriptures, and natural signs, with the Holy Quran serving as the final and universal revelation and Muhammad serving as the last prophet of God. 4

The teachings and practices of Muhammad (the sunnah) documented in traditional collected written accounts (the hadith) provide a secondary constitutional model for Muslims to follow, after the Quran (Chapter 14: Verse  63).

Islam is very diverse – It includes Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, mystical Sufism, conservative Wahhabism, and more secular branches like the Islam practiced by many Sunnis in Turkey.  

The Reasons for Creating Islam

Islam was founded and largely created by the Prophet Muhammad, an historical man who lived first in the Arab city of Mecca, then in Medina, and then in Mecca again.  Both cities are located today in Saudi Arabia. 

Although Muhammad was illiterate, he is said to have heard Allah speak the entire content of the Quran – Islam’s most holy book – directly to him and him alone.  Later, Muhammad recited it, the entire Quran verbatim to scribes who wrote down his exact words on whatever pieces of paper they had at hand.

Muhammad and His Early Supporters Were Looking For 4 Things in a New Religion:

  • They opposed the illogic of Christianity’s Trinity.
  • They Wanted a Monotheism.
  • They Desired an Arab Religion, based in Arabia and written in Arabic.
  • The promise of an attractive Afterlife.

Why did they want these four things?  We will discuss this later in our section called, The Roots of Islam.

What Is the Purpose of Life, According to Islam?

  • In Buddhism, the purpose of life is to reach Nirvana — complete understanding through mental detachment from worldly suffering.
  • In Christianity, the purpose of life is to love and share with other people everywhere, and the to enter Heaven when you die.
  • In Islam, the Purpose of Life is Submission to the will of Allah.

The Practice of Nature’s Continuing Creation presents a very different Purpose of Life. Our Purpose of Life is to actively and positively contribute to the further evolution and elaboration of Continuing Creation.  Brotherly love is only one component of the Nature’s Continuing Creation.  And Submission has no place at all in our Practice. We Cooperate, but we never Submit.   

Submission in Islam

The Arabic word Islam means “submission” or “surrender.”  Islam teaches that spiritual peace comes from accepting your place under the commanding mind and hand of God.  In contrast to the Practice of Continuing Creation, Islam is primarily not about creating, building, discovering, and inventing.

This Islamic idea of submission is very foreign to Western cultures, which, as descendants of ancient Greek Civilization, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, celebrate the independence of the individual — free expression, self-determination, and self-definition.  

The Path of Nature’s Continuing Creation holds that Islam’s foundation on “Submission” is a serious Shortcoming.  Submission to Allah (God) is the wrong way to seek spiritual peace. Active participation in Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Universe, is the better way to seek Meaning, Purpose, and Fulfillment.  We hold that Fulfillment, which is active, is more important than Peace, which is often passive.  

  •  Islam’s Central Theme is Submission.
  • Continuing Creation’s Central Theme is Creating (building, inventing, cooperating, etc.)

A danger of making submission the central theme of Islam is that submission too easily leads to blind obedience, or angry attack, or passivity. Without critical thinking, questioning, searching, it is too easy to perform and/or accept mean-spirited acts under the delusion that God has ordered them to be done. Today, we see the more orthodox and militant sects adhering to Political Islam performing beheadings, stoning, and female genital mutilations. This temptation toward negativity is another Shortcoming of Islam.

Conversion to Islam is a Major Goal

Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion at Boston University, writes that the central concern of Islam is that no person can be sufficient without Allah, yet not everyone in the world submits to Allah and follows Islam.  5 For example, Muhammad saw that the Christians in Mecca and Medina were incorrectly worshipping an ordinary human (Jesus of Nazareth) and a fictitious ghost (the Holy Ghost). The goal, therefore, was to convert them to Islam.

Intolerance of Other Faiths

The Way of Continuing Creation is not to proselytize, but to present enough knowledge about Nature, Reason, and Science, so that many people will decide on their own to follow it.  For Followers of Continuing Creation, Islam’s intolerance of other Spiritual Paths is a Shortcoming of Islam.  While we advocate our own Spiritual Path, we would never deny anyone their right to follow a different Path…. unless that path violates basic human rights (e.g., as embodied in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights).

Can Peace Really Be Found in Submission?

By submitting absolutely, a devout Muslim is taught that he or she will find Peace.  This concept of Peace somewhat resembles the state of Nirvana (Enlightenment) sought by Buddhists, and the state of Moksha sought by Hindus. They both involve detachment from worldly care and concern. 

However, Nirvana and Moksha are not about submission; it is complete understanding and a merging of the human mind with the design of Brahman, “the creative principle which lies realized in the whole world.” 6

In Islam, the detachment comes through abject surrender, by giving in with fatalistic resignation.  A Western person, used to independent thinking, planning, and acting, would say, “If everything is willed by Allah and done by Allah, why bother trying to do anything?”  

Free Will Seems Very Limited in Islam

Christians in western societies have been greatly influenced by the idea of free will, and western rational thinking.  As a result, Western Christians try to contact God, even converse with God in an effort to discern God’s plan for their individual lives.  But Muslims appreciate that Allah can and often does change his mind, sometimes seeming to be capricious.  Therefore, Muslims don’t think too much about discerning God’s plan for them.  The plan is whatever God wills it to be, and God can change His mind at any time.  Whatever happens was meant to happen.  “Will I complete my chores tomorrow?  Inshallah – if God wills it.”

“The Five Pillars of Worship” (also called “The Five Pillars of Islam”)  

Religions usually prescribe what you should believe and what you should do.  Islam places special emphasis on what you should do.  If you ask a Muslim what he/she “believes,” the usual response is a recounting of the “Five Pillars of Worship.”

  1. Shahadah (Testify): “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger.“
  2. Salat (Prayer): Pray five times each day (at dawn, noon, midafternoon, sunset, and night).
  3. Zakat (Charity): Contribute 2.5% of one’s wealth each year to the needy.
  4. Sawm (Fasting): Fast between dawn and sunset every day during the month of Ramadan.
  5. Hajj (Pilgrimage) If possible, make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca during your life.

Interestingly, four of these Five Pillars say nothing about what a Muslim believes!  They say nothing about being good, being at peace, or being at one with God. They are a checklist of outward behaviors.  In that way, they are somewhat like the Seven Sacraments of Catholicism:  Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Matrimony, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders.

The Five Pillars are neither profound nor fundamental.  There is nothing revolutionary in the Pillars comparable to The Son of God dying to remove one’s sins (Christianity).  There is nothing revolutionary in the Pillars like seeking liberation from the suffering caused by human desire (Hinduism & Buddhism).  We regard this as a Shortcoming of Islam. 

Instead, Islam’s fundamental beliefs and moral principles appear to have come from Judaism and Christianity; and from Sociobiology before them.

The Second Pillar requires Muslims to pray five specified times each day. The most important thing about this praying appears to be the full, physical prostration of the individual before God.  This practice seems onerous to westerners.  It reminds us of cloistered Catholic monks and nuns, who are also required to pray several times a day. 

The Muslim posture of prayer is one of abject prostration – the posture of a slave before master.  Muslims often refer to themselves as “slaves of Allah.” 7 The Buddhist posture – just sitting quietly – is much more egalitarian.  Even the Catholic practice of kneeling is not as severe as the Muslim prostration. And Muslims pray with the women in back, of course.  Each person looks toward the posterior of the person in front of them.  If God is in all of us, in all the Systems on Earth, what need is there to prostrate any man or woman before anything?  We Co-Creators in Continuing Creation regard the “Second Pillar” as a Shortcoming of Islam.

The Practice of Continuing Creation rejects all postures, gestures, and attitudes of enslavement, subjection, servitude, and blind obedience.

However, it is a Strength of Islam that it emphasizes regular daily contemplation of each person’s Higher Power (which in our case is Nature’s Continuing Creation).  For Co-Creators, we suggest these three practices:

A morning meditation on an important aspect of Nature’s Continuing Creation, perhaps done in accompaniment to Yoga or stretching, followed by a morning walk, swim, or run.

  • A Midday meditation on Continuing Creation and one’s role within it.
  • A pre-bedtime meditation on Continuing Creation and on one’s events and behavior during that day.

Meditation is discussed more fully in our Essays, Meditations for Co-Creators, and Leading a Fulfilled and Happy Life.  In both these Essays, we draw heavily on the book, How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery, by Lawrence LeShan. 8

The Third Pillar requires a yearly contribution of 2.5% of every household’s wealth to the needy.  Followers of Nature’s Continuing Creation find that Islam’s Third Pillar is rational and realistic.  We ourselves call for giving 5% of a person’s time or income, which is often less than Islam’s 2.5% of wealth.  Neither percentage is as extreme and impractical as Jesus’ doctrine of Radical Sharing. (See our online Essay, Evaluating Jesus’ Teaching.) The Charity Pillar is a Strength of Islam.

Obeying vs. Believing

One’s submission is manifested by obedience to Allah’s Commandments and Laws. 

Islam is more about Obeying than it is about Believing.  For most Christians, on the other hand, being re-born and getting to heaven is more about believing in the divinity of Jesus than it is about doing charitable works.  9  

Islam Is Not Ascetic

Islam is seldom ascetic.  Monasticism is forbidden in Islam. 10 According to Islam, Allah created the physical world and the human body for enjoyment.  Physical pleasures such as sex and food are to be enjoyed in moderation. This a Strength of Islam. Islam does require abstention from all alcohol.  The Path of Continuing Creation also disapproves the consumption of harmful drugs and advocates moderation or abstinence in drinking alcohol.

Spiritual Jihad – “Personal Religious Cleansing.”

Spiritual, or Inner, Jihad – personal religious cleansing – is sometimes included as a “sixth pillar” in discussions of religious obligations.  Whether it’s one of the pillars or not, all authorities agree that jihad is required. The inner jihad is every Muslim’s personal struggle to rid himself or herself of religious doubts and temptations to sin; to come closer to Allah. 11

The word jihad itself means ‘striving’ or ‘struggle.’ There are two kinds of jihad:  the Inner (‘greater’) struggle, and the Outer (‘lesser’) struggle, which we call jihadism.  12 Jihad may be associated with almost any activity by which Muslims attempt to bring personal and social life into a pattern of conformity with the guidance of God. 13

The outer struggle, “Jihadism,” motivates militant (usually) male “Jihadis” (warriors) to attempt to throw unbelievers out of Islamic lands if they cannot be converted to Islam.  We discuss this later in the section, “Jihadism.”  

Most of the “kill the infidels” language is in Chapter 9 of the Quran, which is one of the last chapters to be ‘revealed’ to Muhammad toward the end of his life, when he was waging war and converting by the sword. Therefore, one could conclude violent jihadism is not the “default position” of Islam.  Instead, the Quran’s earlier more peaceful Islam, and not jihadism, could be considered the truer Islam.  14

However, “A simple counting method shows that only 3% of the hadiths are about the inner, ‘greater’ struggle; whereas 97% of the hadiths are about jihad as war, the ‘lesser’ struggle.”

The Religious Texts of Islam

The Quran – The literal, absolute, spoken Word of Allah. 

                   Surah – The chapters of the Quran.
                   Ayah – The verses of the Quran’s Chapters.
                   (So, for example, the citation “Quran 3:12” would mean “Surah #3, Ayah #12.”)

             Muslims recognize that the supporting texts listed below were written by men:
                   Hadith – The reported sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad
                   Sunnah –The reported practices and customs of Muhammad
                   Sira       – The attempted chronological biographies of Muhammad’s life
                   Sharia   – The religious law of Islam, based on the Quran and the Hadith.

The sayings and stories of Muhammad are in the Hadith. The life of Muhammad is found in his fragmented biographies, the Sirah.  (The Sirah and the Hadith together are called the Sunna.)  Sharia is the body of religious law that governs the civil behavior of Muslims. 

All these texts are further discussed in sections below.

The Quran

Note: “Quran” is the today’s most accepted spelling. Also popular is “Qu’ran.” Older spellings include “Koran.”

The Quran is believed to be the direct and absolute word of God (Allah), as spoken directly to his Prophet Muhammad.  Muhammad later recited verbatim the words of Allah to scribes who wrote them down.  While Christians feel that Jesus was God’s ultimate gift to Humanity, Muslims feel that it was the Quran.  15

The Quran consists of 114 Surahs (chapters), and those are further divided into 6236 Ayahs or verses.  Only the Quran is considered to be the direct and infallible Word of Allah.  The other “supporting texts” of Islam, listed above, were written by highly respected historical Islamic men.

The Quran contains about 153,000 words. The Sirah contain about 292,000 words, and the Hadith has 646,000 words (using the Bukhari text).  So “Allah’s words” are about 14% of the total of the Trilogy, and “Muhammad’s deeds and words” are ~86% of the total.  Therefore, a great deal of Islam is “Muhammad-ism.” 16

The Quran is Not in Chronological Oder

The Surahs (chapters) of the Quran are not arranged by chronology or theme.  They are arranged roughly in order of descending size.  The Books of the Bible are also not chronologically arranged.  17

Since all the verses in the Bible or Quran are directly spoken from God, they are all considered co-equal.  Therefore, religious preachers are able to extract a Chapter, or even a single verse, from one of the two holy books and preach upon its meaning, without have to worry about its historical context or its relationship to other chapters or verses.  (This same method is used by Christian preachers of all denominations.)

Practitioners of Nature’s Continuing Creation contend that all the Old Religions need to rearrange the chapters of their holy books into chronological order because that would provide historical context for them and clarify their meaning.  This is especially true for Islam because it has a doctrine of abrogationAbrogation in Islam means that within the Quran, a good number of Allah’s early statements are regarded as having been over-ruled by Allah’s later statements. 

 Fortunately, within the first two centuries of Islam, scholars had settled on two competing chronological orders for the surahs: the “Egyptian Standard Chronology,” and “Noldeke’s Chronological Order.” A Wikipedia article called the List of Chapters in the Quran, presents a chart showing the traditional order of the Surah’s in the left-most column, followed by the two chronological orders in labelled columns to the right.  

Virtually all scholars agree that when the Surahs of the Quran are re-arranged in chronological order, the later pronouncements of Muhammad are clearly more violent and militant than his earlier verses, because in the last ten years of his life, Muhammad was engaged in a continual succession of wars conquering neighboring tribes and city-states. 

Who Wrote the Quran?

What Muslims Believe about the Origin of the Quran

As mentioned before, Muslims believe that Allah himself dictated the exact language of the entire Quran to Muhammad. 

After Muhammad had died (in AD 632), the scribe Zayd ibn Thabit was charged with the job of locating all the piecemeal transcriptions of the parts of the Quran and compiling them into one volume. Twenty-some years later, Zayd was charged with gathering all the variant versions that still existed, determining the correct one, and burning the rest.  (See https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/who-really-wrote-the-quran/.)

What Modern Scholars Think about the Origin of the Quran

There is argument these days about who was the real author(s) of the Quran.  Here are examples of what modern scholars are finding out: 

  • In 1977, John Wansbrough of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London wrote that the text of the Quran appeared to be a composite of different voices or texts compiled over dozens if not hundreds of years. 18
  • The Hungarian scholar Ignaz Goldhizer was among the first to show that many of the hadith were no more than “verses from the Torah and the Gospels, bits of Rabbinic sayings, ancient Persian maxims, passages of Greek philosophy, Indian proverbs, and even an almost word-for-word reproduction of the Lord’s Prayer.” 19

What Followers of Continuing Creation Think about the Origin of the Quran

The Practice of Continuing Creation does not believe that God (Allah), spoke a new and final holy book directly to Muhammad.

Assertions by all religions that their principal books are divinely written are wrong. The myth of divine authorship, like all religious myths and miracle stories, are Shortcomings of their religions.

Islam’s reliance on a single book that is held to be the absolute Word of God, is a Shortcoming in the eyes of Co-Creationists. Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation does not have, and will never have, a book that is taken to be absolutely true or absolutely correct.  Since the our book of Continuing Creation is based on Nature, Science, and History (and Reason), all of which evolve and grow over time, this book on Nature’s Continuing Creation is always subject to revision in the light of new evidence. The book should always be able to link its readers to entire arenas of science and scholarship.  

However, we Participants in Nature’s Continuing Creation think it is only natural that the Quran re-tells stories from Jewish and Christian sources about Abraham, Isaac, Joseph and Jesus, because Islam declares itself to be an Abrahamic religion.  The authorship of those stories does not change our assessment of Islam’s Strengths and Shortcomings.

Two Layers of Writing in the Quran: “A. Mecca” and “B. Medina.”

The Qur’an consists of two distinct layers, one earlier and one later. Muslim tradition accounts for this in terms of Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 (the Hijrah), when his emphasis shifted markedly from peaceable coexistence with those of other beliefs to a “violent intolerance and imperial ambition.”

The two layers, A and B, are so different that it is difficult to attribute them to the same author or authors. They make use of a very different vocabulary and style and demonstrate very different themes.

Layer A (The Mecca Surahs) — Roughly the 86 surahs revealed before the Hijrah, is a skillfully written theological work. Much of it recounts biblical stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, referring to those events as “Signs” foretelling conclusions stated elsewhere in the Quran. 20

Layer B (The Medina Surahs) — Approximately the 28 surahs revealed after the Hijrah (Muhammad’s migration from Medina to Mecca) is quite different: it has a much rougher rhetorical style, longer verses, fewer biblical references, and includes imprecations to obey the Prophet (Muhammad).  It includes detailed moral and legal prescriptions, numerous anti-Christian and anti-Jewish polemics, and many exhortations to fight against the enemy and unbeliever.  21
(For more information, see two excellent Wikipedia articles: Meccan surah and Medinan surah.)

Read The Quran for Yourself

Your author, J.X. Mason, says: pick up the Quran and read some of it for yourself.  Select at least four or five randomly chosen places in the book.

You may find the Quran endlessly repetitive, alternating between statements of Allah’s greatness and warnings of death and hell for unbelievers. You may be confused by how it jumps randomly from topic to topic, and how it frequently expresses logically opposite thoughts in the space of a few pages. 

You may be disconcerted by the completeness of Allah’s commanding power, by his overt, insistent, and often capricious control over every detail of every human life.  You may be numbed by the repeated images of punishment, cruelty, and violence. 

Instead of Buddha’s useful philosophy or Lao Tzu’s wisdom, you may find detailed commandments about when and how to prostrate yourself and praise Allah, who apparently glories in the sight of humans prostrating themselves in submission.

Or, you may find something different.  Again, pick up the Quran and read it for yourself.

But bear in mind that the Quran was not intended to be read. It was intended to be recited, spoken out loud.  Many say that the repetition in the verses become poetic when they are read aloud…. and in Arabic.

Like the Bible, the Qur’ān makes use of literary techniques and devices to present its message: it tells stories, cites parables, uses figures of speech, and draws character sketches.  [Note] See https://qurandev.github.io/widgets/literarydevices.html. [/note]

The Surahs jump from topic to topic. They have no unity or coherence, and they are also repetitive, confusing, contradictory, and obscure.  This is a Shortcoming of Islam.

Scholars feel the Surahs were likely nearly verbatim recordings of Muhammad’s “stump speeches,” given to various audiences at various time and places.  As such, each one is ad hoc, moves freely from topic to topic, and can be repetitive from audience to audience.  

Memorization Schools

Many Muslims elect to memorize the entire Quran.  There are even schools (Madrassa) for this express purpose.  At the end of memorizing, the work expended has been so huge that the memorizer must conclude it was worth it, else the psychological dissonance would drive the memorizer insane.  Nature’s Way of Continuing Creation regards this Quran memorization as a Shortcoming of Islam. A person’s time and energy would be far better spent learning critical thinking and/or doing something constructive in the world. 

A large amount of dissonance reduction must also be involved in the repetitive rounds of five prayers per day.  Islam can be seen as a way to induce “hive behavior” through social pressure, indoctrination, and repetition; and to keep Allah front and center in Muslims’ minds.

It is a badge of achievement in the Muslim world for a believer to have memorized the Quran. Madrassa Schools place great emphasis on this goal.  And it must be memorized, and recited, in Arabic.  (This is aided by the fact that the Quran is reportedly very poetic and beautiful in Arabic.)

In Islam, Allah decrees and controls every detail of life, and nothing happens unless “Allah wills it to happen.” In Western civilization, human beings have considerable power over their lives, and their future.  In Jan 2016, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh decreed that believers must not play chess, because it is “the work of Satan.” The Way of Nature’s Continuing Creation says, “First, there is no Satan; and second, this is ridiculous!”

Bill Warner’s Abridged Quran – Chronological, Edited, & Shortened

Dr. Bill Warner writes that if the necessary editing is done, the Quran is a very straightforward document that can be easily understood.  He has in fact constructed a re-ordered, and condensed version of the Quran.  Dr. Warner did his editing in three steps:

  1. “The first editing step is to put the Quran in order with respect to time. This timeline order has been generally agreed upon since the first days of Islam.
  2. The next step is to collect all the variations of the same story. For example, the repeated 39 verses telling of the story of Moses and the Pharaoh are all collected into one.
  3. The third step is to take the Sirah – the stories of Muhammad’s life — and weave them into the Quran to give the Quran a context.”

    : Dr. Warner’s edited Quran, version, called An Abridged Quran, has been published and can be purchased online. 22

Contradictions in the Quran

Muslim and non-Muslim scholars all agree that there is considerable contradiction among the verses of the Quran.  By the 10th century CE, Islamic scholars had enumerated over 235 instances of contradictions, which later doubled to a list of over 550, or 1/11th of the Quran’s total content.  23

Pathfinders of Continuing Creation ask — If the Quran is the absolute word of God, why did God not promulgate it in all the world’s languages simultaneously? And how is it that many early Quranic verses are countermanded (abrogated) by later Quranic verses?

Seven Ways to Handle Contradictions in the Quran

There are seven logical approaches to handling contradictions in a religious text, and at least three of them are used by Muslims trying to understand and live with and within the Quran:

  1. Reconcile the contradictions by finding “hidden, unifying meanings.”
  2. Accept the contradictions by faith, as part of God’s “mystical mystery.”
  3. Explain the contradictions by arguing the doctrine of abrogation: Allah, being all powerful, can, and did change his mind.
  4. Ignore the contradictions, taking each verse alone and isolated from all others.
  5. Realize that the verses are not the “Word of God,” but the writings of fallible, human beings.
  6. Count the verses on one side of a contradiction, and the verses on the other. The viewpoint with the highest count wins: This is the dominant view of how to understand the Quran.
  7. Study Islam thoroughly and objectively, and then reach a considered and supported judgment on what the Quran, and Hadith mean to say.

Below, we’ll look more closely at each of these 7 approaches:

#1 — Hidden Meanings

Since believers hold every verse to be true, many of them conclude that all verses must be consistent.  So, over the centuries, endless hours of theological debate and obscure scholastic reasoning have been spent trying to reconcile contradictory verses and find hidden meanings. (warner) Clerics also use this approach when verses are not contradictory, just illogical or incomprehensible.

#2 – Accept Contradictions as Part of the “Mystery of Faith.”

This is the way that Christians accept the doctrine of the Trinity – where God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all simultaneously separate, and yet One God.  Where Jesus is both truly human, and yet truly God. 

#3 – Abrogation: 

Allah, being all-powerful, has the ability to change his mind whenever it suits him to do so.  When Allah makes a pronouncement in the Quran that contradicts one that he made earlier, the later one is said to abrogate (cancel out) the earlier one.  

The “Satanic Verses” – A Famous Example of Abrogation

Muhammad despaired when Muslims faced early persecution in Mecca from citizens who were clinging to traditional polytheism.  At one point, Muhammad sought to conciliate some leading polytheists in Mecca, and had a revelation that allowed them to continue worshipping their local deities.  Later, Muhammad concluded that this recorded revelation could not be right and that he must have been “channeling” the devil. Therefore, these verses in the Quran – the so-called Satanic Verses – are therefore discredited by Islam.  24

Muhammad explained the change with three new Surahs now called The Satanic Verses:” Quran 2:106, 16:101, and 22:52.  Here is one of them, Surah 22:52:

“Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and Allah will confirm (and establish) His Signs: for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom.”  (Quran 22:52, “The Satanic Verses.”)

Followers of Nature’s Continuing Creation say — If Allah is all-powerful, why would or how could Allah allow Satan to contaminate the transmission?  The answer, of course, is that there is no pure word of God, no anthropomorphic God, and no anthropomorphic Satan. There is only Continuing Creation.  Muhammad, being a human and a politician, first lulled the Meccans with a polytheistic “revelation,” and then countered it with other “revelations” when the Meccans had been fully co-opted.

A Second Example of Abrogation – “No Compulsion in Religion”

Surah 2:256, from Muhammad’s early days in Mecca, reads: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path.” (Quran 2:256)

That verse is abrogated by Surah 8:12 from Muhammad’s later days in Medina, which reads: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”  Muhammad’s followers requested further clarification of this abrogation, which was supplied in a Hadith: 

“Allah’s Apostle said: ‘I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle.’” (Hadith Bukhari, V1 B2 #24.)   

These “correcting” verses are called the “sword verses” because they “cut down” the earlier verses.  The most famous, THE sword verses, are:

“But when the forbidden 4 months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 9:5)

“If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.” (Quran 9:6)

#4 – Take Each Verse in Isolation

In day-to-day practice, Quranic Verses are usually taken in isolation and used out of context.  This happens because being “the words of God,” any single verse is true in and of itself (Quran 56:77-80). A typical Muslim theologian or lawyer searches for theological or legal content in the Quran, and, as soon as he finds such content, focuses on it, often in disregard of contradictory content or any context.  In so doing he may make serious errors of interpretation.  The same thing takes place when Christian preachers prepare their Sunday morning sermons using a single verse from the Bible. 

#5 – Realize that “Holy Books” Were Actually Written by Human Beings.

This alternative, #5, is not seriously pursued by very many Muslims.  But this is the principal explanation for we Followers of Nature’s Continuing Creation:

Pathfinders of Continuing Creation ask — “Why would Allah, who is all powerful, speak in ways that are repetitive, confusing, contradictory, and obscure?”  Islamic clerics may try to reconcile the conflicting passages, but the plain fact is this:  The passages are contradictory because they were created not by God but by human beings.  And this is true of every other “Holy Book” ever written.  But in the case of Islam, the contradictions are compounded by Muhammad’s changing from being a religious and civic leader to a conquering military general.

#6 – Count the Numbers of Verses “For” and “Against.”

Dr. Bill Warner offers the sixth approach to finding the dominant meaning when Quranic verses are contradictory. Since the Quran is filled with contradictory verses, Dr. Warner (and others) simply count the number of verses that fall into differing categories. 

For example, the statement above that “There is no compulsion in religion” is overwhelmed by 100 or more statements calling for compulsion and describing the gory details of the torture used to do it.  For example quotations, see: “Qu’ran, Hadith and Scholars: Muhammad and Torture.”

#7 – Reach a Considered Opinion After Objective Scholarly Study.

There are a good number of respected scholars who have studied Islam and the Quran. These include:

  • Professor Patricia Crone (1945-2015). After a lifetime of studying Islam at scholarly institutions including the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Professor Crone summarized the three major themes of the Quran as “God’s unity, the reality of the resurrection and judgment, and the imminence of violent punishment.” 25 Professor Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion at Boston University, and author of 10 books on religion, including God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World, which devotes 38 pages of highly recommended (and finely detailed) prose on Islam.

Respected writers who are more critical of Islamism include:

  • A former Muslim who writes under the name Ibn Warraq has edited The Origins of the Quran, and The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. Warraq heads a group called the Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society.  He also wrote Why I Am Not a Muslim, as a short wiki article published in 1995 by Prometheus Books; and published again in 2020 by Momus and Warraq Publishers.

  • Bill Warner, (the pen name of Dr. Bill French), has written a number of closely researched and documented books critical of Islam, including An Abridged Koran: The Reconstructed Historical Koran, The Islamic Doctrine of Women, and The Doctrine of Slavery: An Islamic Institution. French holds a PhD in Physics and Mathematics from North Carolina State University. Other writers regard Warner as someone who wrongly conflates Islam too closely with Islamism.    

Today, the vast majority of Muslims accept that there are significant contradictions within the Quran, within the Hadiths, and between the Quran and the Hadiths. They also believe that the doctrine of abrogation is necessary to establish correct and consistent Sharia Law. 26

Love – Is It Central in Islam?

In Christianity, your love of Jesus Christ, and His love of you, can get you into heaven, regardless of your sins, providing you are repentant.

In Islam, pure submission to the will and judgement of Allah may get you to heaven; but likely not if your life is full of sin.

An interesting question is:  Does Submission equal Love?  Are they the same thing?  Your author, J.X. Mason judges that they are not at all the same.  In Nature’s Continuing Creation, the Creating is the central purpose of life.  Love happens when we create close relationships with other people.  Many people also develop a love for some worthwhile process – art, music, nursing, teaching, engineering, welding bridge beams, and endless others.

There Is Little Celibacy in Islam

There are no religious orders of celibate monks or nuns in Islam.

“Celibacy was not part of the original practices of Islam, and most of the famous Islamic “saints” were married. Even among bands of Sufi mystics, such as the “whirling dervishes,” celibacy was rare. Muslims believe that marriage is a gift from God or a kind of service to God. Islamic celibacy, where it exists, is a matter of personal spiritual advancement or enthusiasm rather than sacerdotal purity or institutional control.” (See Encyclopedia Britannica on “Celibacy).  This is a Strength of Islam, compared to Roman Catholic Christianity’s requirements for priests, monks, and nuns.  27

Family Values in Islam

Strong family values are a Strength of Islam (although this religion vests too much power in the hands of the husband).

In Islam, “the patriarchal family is considered the divine norm.  Everyone submits to God.  Citizens submit to the ruler, the wife submits to the husband, and children to the parents.” 30

Muhammad had seven children, three boys and four girls. All his sons died in infancy. Muhammad also had an adopted son, Zayd, who is said to have been the object of Muhammad’s parental affection. He also had five grandchildren. 31

In contrast, Jesus is portrayed as unmarried, and childless (although some religious scholars believe he was married to Mary Magdalene).  Did the Buddha have children? Yes – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_of_Gautama_Buddha

Muhammad has been described as being very fond of children in general. Professor Watt attributes this to Muhammad’s yearning for children, as most of his own children died before him. Muhammad played many games with children, joked with them and befriended them. 32

Muhammad used to let his granddaughter sit on his shoulders while he was praying. When someone expressed astonishment at the Prophet when the Prophet kissed his grandchild, he responded, “What can I do if God has deprived your heart of all human feeling?” 33

The Historical Roots of Islam

Earlier, we said that Muhammad and his supporters had four basic reasons for founding Islam:

  1. They opposed the illogic of Christianity’s Trinity.  
  2. They desired a monotheism to replace the existing religious chaos in Arabia
  3. They wanted an Arabian faith, written in the Arabic language.
  4. They wanted an attractive afterlife.

In this section, we want to look deeper into the socio-political history underlying the emergence of Islam. 

How All Religions and Spiritual Paths Arise

When there are masses of co-located, socially/ethnically unified people who are distressed by poverty, disease, oppression, natural disasters, and/or violence, (along with fear of those things and fear of eventual death) – those people may well seek betterment through one or more of the following nine apparent and/or possible solutions:

    Practical Real-World Solutions

  1. Achieve a better life here and now through revolution or conquest;
  2. Achieve a better future through creativity and technology;
  3. Achieve physical rescue by a better king, a more enlightened country, or a helpful international agency;
  4. Achieve higher morality, more justice, and more prosperity through individual reform.
  5. Achieve higher morality, more justice, and more prosperity through social and political reform.

    Mental-Spiritual Solutions, i.e., Invent a Supernatural Religion or a Spiritual Path

  1. Envisioning gifts from a supernatural being, and/or
  2. Envisioning rescue by a messiah (could be a ‘practical solution’), and/or
  3. Envisioning a promised second life in a supernatural heaven, and/or;
  4. Offering an escape – mental or social withdrawal — from conditions here on Earth.

The nine various “solutions” in lists A and B above boil down to the “Three “F’s:” “Fight, Fix, or Flee.”

Note: A-list things may combine with B-list things to create “Secular Religions” – such as communism and fascism. For example, Bolshevik Communism had a real revolution (in Russia, 1917), and promised attainment of a workers’ paradise, where wealth was produced by the able for use by all. At the other end of the political spectrum, the example of fascist Nazism inculcated racial superiority of the so-called Aryan race, falsely blamed real and imagined problems on Jews, and promoted a culture of totalitarian militarism in Germany in the 1930’s.

Islam’s Real-World Problems in Mecca and Medina

Going back as far as 3000 years, to the time of the Ancient Semitic Tribes, the Middle East has been inhabited by male-dominated cultures. Thus, all three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are paternalistic. 

For a thousand or more years, ethnic tribes and city-states in the Middle East warred against each other to gain and occupy the limited arable lands. Families did best with authoritarian fathers; tribes and city-states did best with strong military leaders.  34

Many think that these conditions caused Islam to impose a prescriptive, pervading influence on the daily lives of its believers. 

Other Real-world Problems in Mecca and Medina were crime, corruption, and lack of social order; a feeling of social chaos and anomie; a chaotic collection of gods and goddesses; a feeling of ethnic powerlessness; and attendant envy of other cultures.

Islam offered several Solutions to the Problems: a combination of everything on the A-list (except a better future through technology), plus two Solutions from the B-List, namely Withdrawal and Escape.  Modern Islam makes full use of technology and medicine, including medicine, but Earthly progress is not a focus or goal of the faith.  This is a Shortcoming of Islam, from the viewpoint of Continuing Creation.

Islam’s Real-world Solutions to The Problems in Mecca & Medina

Islam’s real-world solutions were to be achieved through political revolution installing strict theocratic government, including detailed theological law covering all human endeavor and behavior. The strict government and strict morality would produce more justice, less corruption, and more jobs.

Islamic sacred texts were somewhat progressive about social order or social justice, compared to the Arab cultures of the day, but are medieval compared to the tenets of, say, the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948. (The UN Declaration is available online, and downloadable as a PFD file.)

After completing a political revolution in Medina, Muhammad set about expanding his theocratic rule through the military conquest of Mecca and adjacent territories. (See the Timeline of Muhammad’s Life, Appendix A to this Essay.)

Islam’s Mental-Spiritual Problem

In his book, God Is Not One, Professor Stephen Prothero writes that every religion defines a major mental-spiritual problem that it sees in its time and place. This mental-spiritual problem is usually seen as the underlying cause of a society’s real-world problems. He writes that the major mental problem-set for Islam is that people wrongly think they can live successfully without Allah, who is present in every moment and aspect of their lives.   

Islam’s Mental-Spiritual Solution is Submission (Withdrawal)

Islam’s main mental-spiritual solution — a variant of withdrawal — took the form of total and abject submission to the “will” of Allah.  This was an utterly fatalistic acceptance of whatever happens as being the uncontestable and unopposable will of Allah. Muslims believe that Allah’s will extends down into the most minute behaviors of daily human life.  

While the Muslim withdrawal is a retreat from individual thinking, exploring, and creating (all prized by the Practice of Continuing Creation), it is not a withdrawal from Allah.  In fact, Islam is an immersion in the “presence and will of Allah.” In the mystical branch of Islam, Sufism, submission can become a lot like Nirvana – a merging with God – in the Buddhist tradition.  (See our section on Sufism.)

However, Islam has rarely withdrawn from fighting on the battlefield. There are Christian conscientious objectors (including the Amish, the Quakers), but there are few Muslim conscientious objectors.  Submission to Allah can mean fighting to a martyr’s death for the expansion of Muslim territory and for conversion of people to Islam. 

Jewish and Christian Influences on Early Islam

Earlier, we mentioned four things that Muhammad and his early followers wanted in a new religion.  Below, we will discuss why they wanted these four things:    

1. Muhammad and his Supporters Objected to the Illogic of the Trinity

We know that there were minority communities of Jews and Christians living in Mecca prior to Muhammad, and these people were of course monotheists. 

Christianity had existed in the Middle East for 500 years before Muhammad was born.   Muhammad also knew about the theological controversy in Christianity raging over the nature of Jesus: Was (Is) Jesus a human or a God?  Is God one person, two, or three – Father Son and Holy Ghost?  Was it three in One, or One in three? 

Muhammad and his followers strongly felt that the Christian explanation of the Trinity (One God ‘manifesting’ in three persons) was irreconcilably illogical.  Islam’s answer was to firmly declare that Jesus was not God in any sense, but rather a human prophet, the last major prophet before Muhammad.  This is a Strength of Islam, because the trinity concept is also illogical to Followers of Continuing Creation. 

More fundamentally, we Co-Creators in NCC don’t believe in God-as-a-supernatural-person who decides, rules, or inspires.  Instead, we think about Nature’s Continuing Creation as a constellation of interacting Process Systems. Within this constellation, it is clearly okay for different component systems to have their own identities and characteristics.  For example, a wetland is a unique ecosystem, but it contains the processes of photosynthesis, the water cycle, frog-systems, and cattail-systems, just to name four out of many.

On the other hand, if Continuing Creation eventually evolves an internet of computers that can think, then that single “hive-mind” could be seen as what ancient peoples called “God.” We should be wary of that happening, because as Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” A network of thinking machines might leave human values behind.

2. Muhammad and His Supporters Wanted a Monotheism

“I think there is increasing acceptance, even on the part of many Muslims, that Islam emerged out of the wider monotheistic soup of the Middle East,” says Roy Mottahedeh, a professor of Islamic history at Harvard University. 35

Before Islam, most Arabs were polytheists.  The existing spiritual life in Arabia was complex, competitive, and confusing. According to Islamic tradition, the ancient and holy Kaaba (or, Ka’ba) shrine in Mecca had been built by Adam (the “Adam” of “Adam and Eve”) as a place of worship, and then later reconstructed by Abraham and Ishmael. 

In the time of Muhammad, the Kaaba contained images of 360 gods, including the chief god of Muhammad’s tribe, Hubal.  In addition to the gods and goddesses, people believed in “vague spirits inhabiting caves, stones, streams and trees.” 36 One of the first things Muhammad did upon gaining political control in Mecca was to cleanse the Kaaba of the 360 pagan idols that were housed there. 37

By living in Mecca, Muhammad would have known that both Judaism and Christianity had each written a book that actually contained their respective religions, including a set of moral laws – at a time when written books were things of modern wonder. (Islam for dummies?) 

Also at that time, Jewish and Christian communities living in both Mecca and Medina were prospering. Muhammad may well have felt that the monotheism of Judaism provided organization and support for these monotheistic communities.  

The choice of monotheism is a Strength of Islam.  Nature’s Continuing Creation agrees that there is only One Growing, Organizing, Process of the Universe.  However, Followers of N.C.C. also recognize that the One Process has many inter-linked sub-processes, and it presents many different facets to our view and understanding.  In this respect, N.C.C. would be analogous to Hinduism, which has one “Ultimate,” i.e., Brahman, and many gods and goddesses that are fictional personifications of various facets of the One Brahman.

Note: Brahman is a Vedic Sanskrit word.  According to Professor Paul Deussen, it is conceptualized in Hinduism as “the creative principle which lies realized in the whole world”. 38

3. Muhammad and His Supporters Wanted an Arabian Religion

Muhammad wanted a religion that would confirm the pride and status of the Arabs.  Muhammad’s genius was to create a religion that was monotheistic and had its own book (the Quran). In addition, Muhammad’s book would have two advantages:  it would be written in Arabic, and it would claim to be a new revelation succeeding and improving upon Judaism and Christianity.  39

Ethnic identity and ethnic ambition continue to be strong today. They are likely the real engines of the early growth of Islam, because the dogmatic and authoritarian nature of Islam is uninspiring.  Likely the anger of today’s Arabs reflects the region’s lack of natural resources – except for oil and gas, which was controlled by colonial powers during the first half of the twentieth century.  

On the other hand, the non-Arab region of Indonesia is the largest Muslim country today.  Islam in Indonesia was gradually spread through merchant activities by Arab Muslim traders, adoption by local rulers, and the influence of Sufism since the 13th century.  During the late colonial era, Islam was adopted as a rallying banner against colonialism. 40

People have a right to preserve their ethnic identity and culture, and it is a Strength if a religion aids in doing that.  On the other hand, Spiritual Paths that are cross-cultural, like Natura’s Continuing Creation, can help Earth’s nations to avoid war and repair our damaged biosphere.   

4. Muhammad Wanted the Promise of an Afterlife

Prior to Islam, the people living in Mecca and Medina “had no expectation of an afterlife; instead, ‘fate,’ which was more important than the gods, eventually extinguished everything.” 41 If the leaders of Middle Eastern tribes failed to conquer (or defend) sufficient arable land, people would suffer drought, pestilence, famine, and disease.  Surrounded by warfare over the remaining arable land, no one could count on good times lasting for long.  As with Christianity, and to a lesser extent Judaism, the fallback was the promise of a better life in heaven, after death.

The mental-spiritual solution was for Islam to promise an afterlife — a second life in a supernatural heaven. Assertion of an afterlife in heaven, by any religion, is always a Shortcoming in the eyes of Continuing Creation, because the concept of heaven (especially a heaven where deceased humans walk around with new bodies and old friends) is a myth.

To summarize all four things promised in the Islamic Solution: The solution consisted of a new strict government enforcing a new strict morality and inculcating a new mental attitude, all accompanied by total and fatalistic acceptance of Allah in all aspects of life, culminating in a promised afterlife. 

The Nature of Allah (God)

Polytheism, Monotheism, Pantheism

Islam is emphatically monotheistic.  Allah is emphatically ONE.  Every new convert to Islam declares his new religion by making this simple verbal statement:

      “I testify that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is his messenger.” 

Allah, like Yahweh in Judaism, stands alone, unique, and universal:  Both are seen by their believers as The One God who created and governs the entire universe.  In other words, both Judaism and Islam religions are Monotheistic.  Thus, Islam emphatically rejects the Christian Trinity, and prohibits all attempts to portray a visual image of Allah.

Like the Jewish and Christian conceptions of God, Allah is officially defined as neither male nor female. 

For most Muslims, however, Allah is clearly a super-man — all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing.  He is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent; He is Infinite, Immutable, and Eternal. 

All of Allah’s actions and words convey that God is clearly purely male.  He dominates, he commands, he sponsors wars, he punishes.  God does not counsel, cannot be treated as a friend.  He orders, and Believers obey. This vision of Allah as dominantly male is a direct reflection of the complete dominance of men over women in Arab society.

Christianity also strongly asserts its monotheism, although the Roman Catholic God, while One, also mystically has Three Parts – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; together called the Trinity.  So, in most Christian denominations, Jesus is held to be wholly human and wholly God, all at the same time.  In Christianity, God is described as being male.

The Path of Continuing Creation says – Yes, there is only one Continuing Creation.  But Continuing Creation, being a Set of Natural Processes evolving in time, has many aspects, paths, elements, and subsystems, and each subsystem (e.g., each human) in the set has an identifiable and meaningful unity and presence.  

For Islam, God’s “creation process” is strictly top down. Continuing Creation, on the other hand, correctly see the process as bottom up – it is evolutionary and emergent. (See our Essay, Complexity and Continuing Creation.)

The Muslim God, Allah in Arabic, is wholly “Other.”  This means He is completely outside of, separate from, and superior to humanity.   This is a Shortcoming of Islam. 

The Weave of Continuing Creation is not outside humans.  Continuing Creation and humans are interwoven.  Humans are Agents in and of Continuing Creation.

Nature’s Continuing Creation does not operate randomly, but it can appear so, because it follows the laws of cause and effect, the laws of physics, the laws of evolution and natural selection, and the laws of probability – which incorporate partial randomness in their operation. 

In Islam, human beings rarely walk with, talk with, partner with, or consult with Allah.  Allah is not a teacher and creative partner. The remoteness of Allah is a Strength of Islam, because Continuing Creation is a set of processes, and definitely not a familiar person. 

On the other hand, The Pattern of Nature’s Continuing Creation holds that every Human being (indeed, every living thing on Earth) is an active participant – a creative partner — in the collaborative Growing, Organizing, Processes of the Universe.   

It is a Strength of Islam that it never attempts to portray God as a super-human, or any other super-animal or tree.  Instead, Muslims suggest the total creativity of Allah by decorating Mosques with elaborate and beautiful Patterns.  (Much as we do in our Essay, Nature Creates Patterns of Information & Beauty.)

Islam Allows No Images of Allah

Islam forbids images of God, of Allah, because Allah is beyond all description and all imagining.  Judaism also does not allow images of God. Jews have always understood, “You shall not make any graven images for worship” as a strict ban on depicting God.  (See Wikipedia:  Aniconism in Judaism.) It is likely that Islam borrowed this concept from the Jewish faith.

For the same reasons, Islam rejects the idea that God would ever invest his Godliness in a human being.  Roman Catholicism, however, asserts that God-The-Father did exactly that in creating God’s human son, Jesus Christ. 

In Islam, God could be, but would never choose to be, incarnated in human form.  Allah is beyond and classification, beyond any comparison.  42

Islam’s sacred texts refer to our Natural Wonders – The flowers, animals, rivers, good harvests, and many, many others – as Signs of Allah.  This is a Strength of Islam.  All the Natural Wonders, including humankind, are Signs of Continuing Creation.  Even more accurate than “Signs,” would be to say that they are Manifestations, Aspects, Subsystems of C.C.  We think that nearly all the Old Religions, having arisen in times when humans lived in close contact with Nature, have great appreciation for its wonders and beauties. 43

We also agree with Islam that the Pattern of Continuing Creation is beyond complete description.  It makes little sense to attempt making an Image of The Absolute.  But aspects and systems of C.C. can and should be described (much of this Book is devoted to doing just that), and metaphoric images can be used if we always remember that they are just metaphors. 

The Practice of Continuing Creation says:  If a religion is going to personify God, (as Judaism and Christianity do, and as Islam does for all practical purposes), God should not be portrayed as purely male.  It would be better to have both male and female personifications, as do the Greek and Norse Pantheons; or to be entirely asexual as is Taoism and original Buddhism. Having an all-male God is a Shortcoming of all three Abrahamic Religions, including Islam.  If Continuing Creation were to have a gender, it would be female in honor of Mother Nature.  The female gender is more fertile and nurturing than the male.  The Book of Continuing Creation is based on Nature, Reason, and Science.

Omnipresence – Allah Is Present in All Things, at All Times, at All Events

In Islam, Allah is present in everything, in every event, in every thought – not matter how small.  This is perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Islam.  God is seen as consciously directing the smallest movement of every tree everywhere on Earth.  He is responsible for every failure and every success.  What seems like a success is only due to God’s power, and what seems like a failure is only due to God’s “wisdom.” (Quran 49:16)

Moreover, Muslims should be Allah-conscious every minute of every day.  Allah’s name is invoked constantly throughout conversation, and the expression “If God wills,” (in sha Allah, or Inshallah) is appended to all future events, no matter how mundane – as in “I shall eat dinner at sunset, Inshallah.” This usage of Inshallah is from Islamic scripture, the Surah al-Kahf (Quran 18:23-24): “And never say of anything, ‘I shall do such and such thing tomorrow. Except (with the saying): ‘If God so wills!’“

Note: In today’s secular world, the closest thing we have to this behavior is probably among the citizens of North Korea, who are also taught to continually think of, obey, thank, and praise the successive totalitarian dictators they call “Dear Leader,” currently Kim Jong-un.

Allah’s ever-presence produces a religion that is highly prescriptive, down to the smallest things.  If there is no Sharia law, there is at least a learned clerical opinion (a fatwa) on the proper prayer of praise for Allah when leaving a house and on the proper length of a man’s beard.  44

In orthodox Muslim countries, public conduct and dress are enforced by the Islamic Religious Police (called the Mutaween in Saudi Arabia). Allah’s punishments can be violent and cruel, particularly for Infidels and most especially for apostates – people who decide to leave the faith of Islam.

Allah Loves Praise

The Quran presents 99 different superlative titles to describe Allah, including Ar Rahman – The Exceedingly Compassionate, The Exceedingly Beneficent; The Exceedingly Gracious; Ar Rahim – The Exceedingly Merciful; Al Malik – The King; The Sovereign; Al Quddus – The Holy; The Divine; The Pure; The Purifier; As Salam – The Peace; The Source of Peace and Safety; and Al Mumin -The Granter of Security.

The widely accepted hadith Sahih Muslim states: “Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] (may peace be upon him) as saying: “There are ninety-nine names of Allah; he who commits them to memory would get into Paradise. Verily, Allah is Odd and He loves odd numbers.” 45

Allah loves praise and frequently praises himself in the Quran.  (We modern Western infidels might find Allah to be narcissistic.) 

“There is no one to whom praise is more dear than Allah, and because of that He praised Himself.” 
     — Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, quoted in The Hadiths Al-Bukhaari 4631 and Sahih Muslim 2760.)

Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation is not open to praise, because CC is not a person. However, we Practitioners do celebrate (participate in) the beauty and positive energy of Continuing Creation.

Jehovah and Allah Are Both Versions of a Jealous Abrahamic God

In both Judaism and Islam, God is very jealous.  Above all, God does not like it when his followers desert him for other gods.  This is endlessly repeated and demonstrated by stories in both the Old Testament and the Quran.  Why?  Because before the rise of both religions, there was strong competition among local faiths and cults for the attention and support of potential followers.  These same groups were also usually competing for limited arable land and water. (See, for example, Exodus 20:5 and 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24 and 5:9.  In Islam, see hadith al-Bukhaari 4925 and hadith Muslim 2761.)

These conditions were very different than in the wet and fertile lands of India, where innumerable gods and goddesses were (and still are), accepted as viable alternatives of worship.  Yet none of these Hindu deities took himself or herself so seriously as to jealously exclude the others; nor did human Hindus go to war to expand the powers of their favorites.

Allah Is Capricious

In the Old Testament’s Book of Job, God inflicts terrible loss and disease on the righteous man Job.  Why?  Because God has made a bet with the devil about how Job will take it.  Job does stay true to God, and God does restore all Job’s assets and health. But did Job really need to be put through that, just so God could win a wager?  

Note: The Old Testament Story of Job is repeated in the Quran 4:163 and again in Quran, 21:83. (For additional information, see the Wikipedia Article, “Job in Islam.”)

Like Jehovah, Allah is capricious. God can choose to be powerful and judgmental, or he can choose to be wise and merciful.  Allah does not labor under any limitation to do one or the other. The fact that God can go one way or the other, is really verbal sophistry that tries to explain away the inherent randomness in human lives.  This is a shortcoming of all the Abrahamic religions, including Islam. 46

The Fear of God

Old Testament Jews and modern Muslims fear God:  because they never know what God is going to do. Will he grant victory in the coming battle?  Will we have a plague of locusts this year?  A flood?  Psychologically, this leaves believers permanently anxious, in continual dependence and angst.

Followers of Nature’s Continuing Creation never take natural disasters or diseases personally because Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing Direction of the Cosmos, is a Process, not a Person.  Floods and cancer are not the fault of a punishing God, they result from the laws of physics and probability as they work themselves through in our Earthly systems of weather and human biology.  Because we Co-Creators are not looking for mercy, we never fear that it may not arrive.  Does that make us fatalistic?  No, because we work hard at science and engineering to repair the biosphere, build better structures, cure diseases, and much more.

Are There Miracles & Supernatural Events in Islam? 

Are there miracles in Islam? Does Muhammad raise anyone from the dead?  Does he turn water into wine?  No, he does not.  Muhammad was a prophet, not a god.

In Christianity, a miracle is often a supernatural intervention in the life of human beings. Believers pray constantly for someone to be restored to health or saved from impending disaster. 47 

There are no such interventions in Islam. Muslims don’t normally ask Allah to heal a sick person. They pray for the person’s health, but ultimately attribute the recovery or death of the individual to “God’s will.”  Muslims do not pray for such individual story-miracles because they just accept whatever God chooses to do. This is a Strength of Islam, because it is irrational to ask a mythical super-person to grant favors, particularly favors to individual humans.

In Christianity, a miracle can be obtained through any third party, such as the intervention of a saint. In Islam, there are no saints, and no third-party can intervene with Allah. God is already fully aware of all things at all times and needs no persuasion.  Allah directly decides what happens and causes what happens.  Inshallah” means “If God wills;” or, “Whatever Allah wills is what Allah wills.” It is a Strength of Islam that it does not expect and does not pray for Allah to perform miracles in the daily lives of humans. 

If an extraordinary event occurs that can in no way be explained at the time by science, (e.g., a solar eclipse happening in the year 600 CE), Muslims would not consider it a miracle, because they believe that God is great and can do anything and everything.

There is one exception, one “story-miracle,” in the Quran: Allah lifts Muhammad (and his horse Buraq) up and over to Jerusalem to attend a meeting; and then up, through the heavens, and back to Mecca, all during the span of one night. This is known as “The Night Journey,” Isra’ and Mi’raj. 48

Except for the Night Passage story, the only miracle in Islam is the Word of Allah itself, i.e., the Holy Quran, plus special signs from Allah. The beauty and power of nature are signs (proofs) of Allah’s existence.  The Quran invites listeners to pause and contemplate various “Signs of Allah in Nature.”  These include The Sky and the Heavens, the Mountains, The Day and the Night, the Bee and the Camel. This practice is very like the contemplations of Nature that we do in the Practice of Continuing Creation.  (See, “The Bee,” Quran 16:68-69.) This appreciation of Nature is a Strength of Islam.

Seen another way, everything that happens is specifically directed by Allah, so in this sense everything is a “miracle” in Islam.  Similarly, in our own Practice of Continuing Creation the evolution of all past things and all new things around us is the one and only miracle.  And it is a continuing miracle. This doctrinal similarity between Islam and Nature’s Continuing Creation is a Strength of Islam. 

Allah’s Relationship’s with Individual Muslims

  •  Does God have a plan for each individual? Yes, but Allah does not disclose it.
  • Does His plan cover every detail of one’s life? No one but Allah knows.  However, Islam and sharia law cover many details of a person’s dress and haircut; as does Orthodox Judaism
  • Is Allah a personal God? Can Muslims approach Him? Converse with Him? No, Allah is more distant than the God envisioned by Christianity. Muslims do not “walk with God” and “talk with God” as Protestant Christians are said to do. 49 This is a Strength of Islam, because we Co-Creators also do not “walk or talk” with Nature’s Continuing Creation, since it is a set of naturally evolved, interrelated processes.   

The Nature of Muhammad

Muhammad, held to be the last and final Prophet of Allah, is considered to have been the ultimate human exemplar of Islam (Quran 33:21).  Muhammad’s life is closely documented in the Sirah (the prophetic biographies of Muhammad), and his sayings are said to have been closely recorded in the Hadith. Devout Muslims spend countless hours studying both these collections of sacred text. It is a Strength of Islam that Muhammad has not been elevated to the fictional, mythical status of a “God.”

If Muhammad was the ultimate exemplar, what did he do that was so notable?  He formed a new government for Medina, rooting out corruption.  And then he went to war, as we see in our Timeline (Appendix A) and as we will discuss below in the sections on War and Jihadism

Unlike most religions, including Christianity and Buddhism, Islam makes no attempt to turn Muhammad into a God, or even a saint. To do so would be the gravest of sins against Allah.  There is only one Allah.  He is above and separate from humanity.  He is beyond depiction, beyond description. 

We Co-Creators do not believe in a supernatural person-like God, nor do we believe in a God-like person.  We recognize that Nature’s Continuing Creation is an interrelated set of Natural (never supernatural) evolving systems.   

There’s No Original Sin in Islam

Unlike Christians, Muslims do not believe in Original Sin. “Every human being is born with an inclination toward both God and the good, but can easily lose their way, and/or are led astray by demons and non-believers.” 50

This doctrine is a clear Strength of Islam. The Path of Continuing Creation has no place for “original sin.”  We hold that humans have evolved biological tendencies using a balance of cooperation and competition.  Unfortunately, however, a good number of us are born with (and/or become overtaken by) extreme competition which morphs into selfishness and then into evil.  (See our Essay, Suffering and Evil – Causes & Responses.)

Salvation in Islam

Christianity asserts that faith in Jesus as one’s personal Savior from all past sins is all that is needed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is not sufficient in Islam.  In Islam, one must first openly declare belief in Allah and submit to his rule.  (If you later change your mind and adopt a non-Islamic path, you become an apostate, and under Islam you are to be put to death.)

All declared Muslims must follow the Quran and Sharia law for the rest of their lives. They must follow the “Five Pillars of Islam” that we presented earlier:

  1. Profess their faith in Allah
  2. Pray five times a day at prescribed times.
  3. Give alms to the poor
  4. Fast during the holy month of Ramadan
  5. Perform (if physically able) a pilgrimage to Mecca

In addition, all Muslims must follow Sharia (Islamic religious law), which is often as complex and detailed as civil law is in the Western world.

Still, after all this right living, at death every Muslim must face Judgment by Allah. 

It is a Strength of Islam that Allah will hold each person to account for their sins at the time of their death.  There is no mention of forgiveness-while-alive, such as Christians get when they declare, sometime in their lives, that Jesus is their savior, and then repent and start doing good. 

Of course, Practitioners of N.C.C. do not think that there is a life after death.  We work to ensure that the Practice of Continuing Creation, along with secular laws and courts, will hold people accountable for their bad deeds during their lives. (See our Essay, Dealing with Death on Our Path of Creating.)

Nature’s Continuing Creation says:  Fortunately, modern western society, with its remarkable economic and democratic progress, has made life in this world a meaningful, fulfilling, and often joyous journey.  The advancement of Continuing Creation: The Growing Orderly Direction of the Cosmos, including virtue, love, social justice and progress in this life – those are the things each of us must strive for. (See our Essay, Leading a Fulfilled and Happy Life.)

Forgiveness in Islam

In Islam, the recompense for an injury is returning an injury of equal severity (“an eye for an eye”).  While Islam allows revenge to the extent of the harm done, forgiveness is encouraged, with a promise of reward from Allah. (Quran 42:40)

Islam teaches that Allah is “The Oft-Forgiving,” and Allah is the original source of all forgiveness. (Quran 5:95) Granting forgiveness is a virtue, because it is regarded as an act of charity, and charity is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.  51

But a Muslim cannot know whether Allah will forgive him or not.  This is unlike Christianity, where one can be “born again in Jesus” and thereby know that all one’s sins (to date) have been forgiven. Therefore, forgiveness in Islam is not as “free-flowing” as it is promised to be in Christianity.  Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation says that the Islamic approach to injury and forgiveness is closer to reality than the Christian approach.  It is more reasonable than Christianity’s “love thine enemies and turn the other cheek.”

Islam’s “End of Days”

Judgment Day, Heaven, and Hell are taken seriously and literally in Islam.  All three are discussed countless times in the Quran.  The current Wikipedia article, “Islam” says that fully one-third of the Quran’s verses have to do with eschatology – the End of Days and where souls go after that End.  52

We also refer to Professor Patricia Crone’s judgment that the major themes of the Quran are “God’s unity, the reality of the resurrection and judgment, and the imminence of violent punishment.” 53

To get into Heaven, Christianity requires more faith (in Jesus) than in works (obedience to God’s law, including charity).  But in Islam, Allah requires not a heartfelt emotion, but a simple declaration of belief followed by submission and obedience.

That obedience does require charity, which is the Third Pillar of Islam.  It is a Strength of Islam to require charity.  All religions and spiritual paths should do that… including charity toward living things and toward Earth’s biosphere as a whole.

Interestingly, the End of Days story in Islam involves the return of Jesus, who by then has apparently become a Muslim. Jesus fights alongside an Islamic Messiah called al-Mahdi (“He who is guided by God”):

“Jesus’ descent [from heaven to Earth] will be in the midst of wars fought by al-Mahdi (“the rightly guided one”), known in Islamic eschatology as the redeemer of Islam, against al-Masīh ad-Dajjal (the “false messiah”) and his followers.  Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes—his head anointed. He will say prayer behind al-Mahdi then join him in his war against the (the Antichrist). Jesus, now considered to be a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually, Jesus will slay the false messiah, and then everyone who is one of the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb, referring to Jews and Christians) will believe in him. Thus, there will be one community, that of Islam.” 54

Islam’s wild, apocalyptic End of Days fantasy is comparable to the New Testament’s Book of Revelation.  Each of these two grotesque stories is a Shortcoming of its respective religion.

Islamic Heaven and Hell

On Earth, good things often happen to bad people, and bad things often happen to good people. This fact makes it difficult for religion to promulgate and enforce moral behavior. Religions try to overcome Earthly injustice by promising divine justice after life is over. The Good will get God’s reward of Heaven, and the Bad will get God’s punishment of Hell.  To get Believers’ people’s complete attention, Heaven and Hell have been pictured as extreme and eternal.

The Islamic Vision of Heaven

Heaven (also called “Paradise”) is described in sensual detail in the Quran and the Hadith.  See, for example, Quran surah 56 verses 12-40; and 55:54-56; and 76:12-22.

        Here is the Quran, 56: 12-40:

“They [only the men?] shall recline on jeweled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason); with fruits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris [beautiful young women], chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon [reward of war] for their deeds… We created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand; a goodly number from those of old; and a goodly number from those of later times,” (Quran 56: 12- 40.)

Heavenly Rewards – Beautiful Virgins for Righteous Muslim Men

Most of us are aware that Islamic texts promise “72 virgins” to Jihadist warriors who die “fighting the west,” as soldiers or as suicidal bombers.  (For example, Hadith Jami’ at-Tirmidha 3:20:1663.)

But in fact, both the Hadith and in the Quran itself say that houri, “beautiful virgins,” will be the reward for all Muslim men who are righteous enough to enter paradise. 

The houri (or indirectly as “maidens, companions, damsels,” etc.) are mentioned thirteen times in the Quran according to the Wikipedia article, “Houri,” retrieved 10-21-2022. Here are the chapter-and-verse (surah-and-ayah) of those thirteen Quranic citations: 55    

36:55  – “companions”
37:48 –  “with large and beautiful eyes,”
38:52 –  “companions of modest gaze well matched
44:54 – “wide and beautiful eyes”
52:20  – “beautiful houris of wide and beautiful eyes”,
55:56  – “untouched beforehand by man or jinn”,
55:58  – “as elegant as rubies and coral”,
55:72  – “bright-eyed damsels in sheltered in pavilions”,
55:74  – “untouched by any man”, “reclining on green cushions and beautiful carpets”,
56:22  – with intensely black eyes set against the whiteness of their irises”,
56:35  – “created without the process of birth”,
78:32 – “splendid companions”,
44:54  – “And We will marry them [the men] to fair women with [beautiful] eyes”.

In the Hadith, the houris are discussed with a “great deal of later elaboration.” 56 Muslim scholars differ as to whether they refer to Muslim women of this world or to a separate creation, with the majority opting for the latter. 57

Nature’s Continuing Creation regards the promise to men of houri in heaven reveals an immoral and unfair imbalance of power between men and women here on Earth. This misogynistic and male-domineering fantasy is a major Shortcoming of Islam.    

The Islamic Vision of Hell

Islamic Hell is draconian and grotesque, as is the description of Hell in Christianity’s Book of Revelation. The most painful tortures in the Quran are reserved for those who have rejected Islam:

“Do you not see those who dispute concerning the signs of Allah – how they are turned away [from truth]? Those who reject the Book and that with which We sent Our messengers – soon they will know. When the yokes [will be] round their necks and the chains. They will be dragged in the boiling water. Then in the Fire they will be burned.” (Quran 40: 69-72)

“Those who have disbelieved in Our signs – We will burn them in fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, we will exchange them for other skins so that they may taste the punishment. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.”  (Quran 4: 56)

Participants in N.C.C. know that here on Earth, good things often happen to bad people, and bad things often happen to good people. This fact makes it difficult for religions to promulgate and enforce moral behavior. Religions try to overcome Earthly injustice by promising divine justice after life is over. The Good will get God’s reward of Heaven, and the Bad will get God’s punishment of Hell.  To get Believers’ people’s complete attention, Heaven and Hell have been pictured as extreme and eternal.

The Practice of Continuing Creation says: In Islam, as in other religions, the various myths of Judgment Day, Heaven, and Hell help keep the people under control and law-abiding while they often suffer under terrible earthly conditions.  In our modern era, such myths are Shortcomings of their respective religions.  False rewards and false torments are dispelled by Nature, Reason, and Science – the foundations of Continuing Creation.

Sufism in Islam

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. 
 When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”  — Jelaluddin Rumi

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
“A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.
         — Jelaluddin Rumi

Sufism “is the mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through ritual and through direct personal experience of God.”  58  Most Sufis are of the Sunni Islam sect, but some belong to Shia Islam

Professor Stephen Prothero writes that “Sufis generally affirm that all religions are paths to the divine…”  While Muslims tend to emphasize Allah’s transcendence and distance, Sufis emphasize Allah’s immanence and nearness, “drifting along the way toward pantheism (everything is God) and monism (everything is One)” 59

Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation holds that every spiritual path should naturally have a mystical extension and experience.  We define a mystical experience as deep personal apprehension of the Wholeness of the interrelated Processes of Continuing Creation, which many Paths call God.  It is a Strength of Islam that it allows and maintains the Sufi mystical tradition and experience, including a drift toward pantheism. Continuing Creation finds its own sense of Wholeness in the sciences of Emergence and in the tradition of American Transcendentalism. Continuing Creation is also similar to pantheism, except that we focus on the active and creative systems that are everywhere present in the universe.  (See our Essay, Forerunners to Our Path & Practice.)

However, we note that the second Sufi poem that opens this Section of the Essay is a mystical justification for Islam’s fatalism. It would be a Shortcoming of Islam if the bulk of its Sufi mysticism was fatalistic. 

The Whirling Dervishes of Sufism

The Whirling Dervishes, formally known in Islam as The Mevlevi Order, conduct a “mystical Islamic practice in which Muslims (mostly Sunnis) seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through rituals and through direct personal experience of Allah.” 60

The Mevlevi Order originated in Konya (a city now in Turkey), It was founded by the followers of

   Sufi Dancers, “Whirling Dervishes,” in Action

Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, Sufi mystic, and Islamic theologian. 61

The Mevlevis are known as the “whirling dervishes” due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of God). “Dervish” is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path. Whirling is part of the Order’s formal sema ceremony. The Order’s Turkish origin explains why the Mevlevi wear the Turkish fez on their heads while they whirl.

The story of the creation of this unique form of Remembrance is that Rumi was walking through the town marketplace one day when he heard the rhythmic hammering of the goldbeaters. It is believed that Rumi heard the dhikr (reminder), “la ilaha iallah,” (in English, “There is no God but Allah”) in the apprentices beating of the gold and was so entranced in happiness he stretched out both of his arms and started spinning in a circle. Thus, the origin of Sufi whirling. 62

Rhythmic Dances have been used by many cultures as a way to experience a natural spiritual high. For example, Native Americans of the Plains dancing before or after a buffalo hunt. Music and dance are a Strength in Sufi Islam, as they are in every spiritual path, unless they are intended to stir up hatred or violent passion prior to warfare, human sacrifice, or cruelty toward humans or animals.

Sufism in Modern Times

Unfortunately, “modernizing states either prohibited the practice of Sufism entirely (Turkey) or sought to restrict it and bring it under government control (Egypt).  After the success of the puritanical Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia, its scholars saw their mission as the purification of worldwide Islam from what they regarded as unorthodox practices, such as saint reverence and Sufism.” 63 This modern de-emphasis of the Sufi Tradition is a Shortcoming of Islam.

Progressive Islam

The new movement of Progressive Islam is popular in Europe and the United States. 65

Progressive Islam insists that all believers, both rich and poor, both powerful and the disadvantaged, must all obey Allah’s law. 66 Pluralism and Social Justice are important Strengths of Progressive Islam.

Agents of Nature’s Continuing Creation say:  This is the kind of Islam that could be productively continued in the modern era.  With correct lining-through of the now incorrect verses of the Quran, Hadith, and Sharia Law, the remainder could be seen as an historical foundation for the Practice of Continuing Creation.

Some modern Muslim authors have begun to publish skeptical, revisionist work on the Quran. For example, a former Muslim who writes under the name Ibn Warraq has edited The Origins of the Quran, and The Quest for the Historical Muhammad.  Mr. Warraq, heads a group called the Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society. 67 

While this admirable Progressive reform movement is underway in Islam today, it has a great deal left to do.

Islam and the Environment

Islam is likely the only major religion that still kills animals for ritual sacrifice.  This trait alone makes Islam comparatively primitive and barbaric.  It is a Shortcoming of Islam.

But there are also many Surah and Hadith that support care for Nature and the environment.  Below are several examples from Green Ahadith – Ecological Advice from Prophet Muhammad, by Zaufishan Iqbal | September 29, 2020:

  • “And do not walk on the Earth arrogantly, for you cannot rend the earth asunder nor reach the mountains in height.” (Quran 17:37.)
  • “If the Final Hour comes while you have a shoot of a plant in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it. ” (Hadith Al-Albani)
  • “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift made by the planter or sower.” (Hadith Imam Bukhari)
  • “A man came across a dog suffering from thirst. So, he went down the well, filled his shoe with water, and watered the dog. Allah appreciated him for that deed.” The Companions said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: ‘There is a reward for serving any living being.’” (Hadith al-Bukhari)

Social Islamism: Islam & Human Rights 

Social Islamism covers the social politics of education, healthcare, voting, punishments for crimes, free speech, and the like. This realm features many Shortcomings, including the repression of citizenship rights, such as Afghanistan’s 2022 decree that girls must be denied all education beyond the sixth grade (somewhat liberalized in Afghanistan as of October, 2022.)

Islam’s Sharia Law

Compared to The UN’s Universal Human Rights

According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change their religion or belief. Sharia has been criticized for not recognizing this human right.

Several major, predominantly Muslim countries have criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for its perceived failure to take into account the cultural and religious context of non-Western countries.

In 1990, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a group representing all Muslim majority nations, met in Cairo to respond to the UDHR, by adopting the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam.  Unfortunately, Article 24 of the Cairo declaration states that “all the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic sharia.

Why does sharia law reject human rights?  H. Patrick Glenn, a professor of law at Canada’s McGill University, states that sharia is structured around the concept of mutual obligations of a collective, and it considers individual human rights as potentially disruptive and unnecessary to its revealed code of mutual obligations. In giving priority to this religious collective rather than individual liberty, the Islamic law justifies the formal inequality of individuals (women, non-Islamic people). 68

Nature’s Path of Continuing Creation agrees that Sharia law clearly violates human rights. This is a Shortcoming of Islam.

Blasphemy in Islam

Blasphemy in Islam is any form of cursing, questioning or annoying God, Muhammad or anything considered sacred in Islam. The sharia of various Islamic schools of jurisprudence specify different punishment for blasphemy against Islam, by Muslims and non-Muslims, ranging from imprisonment, fines, flogging, amputation, hanging, or beheading. In some cases, sharia allows non-Muslims to escape death by converting and becoming a devout follower of Islam. 69

Apostasy – Leaving Islam

Apostasy (leaving the religion of Islam) is a sin and a religious crime. Once any man or woman is officially classified as Muslim, because of birth or religious conversion, he or she will be subject to the death penalty if he or she abandons his or her faith in Islam in order to become an atheist, agnostic, or to convert to another religion.  Before executing the death penalty, sharia requires that the individual be offered one chance to return to Islam.

Note: However, if a person has never been a Muslim, and is not a kafir (infidel, unbeliever), he or she can live in an Islamic state by accepting to be a Dhimmi, or under the doctrine of Aman. As a dhimmi or under Aman, he or she will suffer certain limitations of rights as a subject of an Islamic state and will not enjoy complete legal equality with Muslims. 70

Violent Civil Punishments

There are three kinds of violence in any religion: 

  1. Violent Punishment for civil or religious crimes,
  2. Imagined violence delivered on Sinners (including Non-believers) in Hell after death, and
  3. Military violence committed during war (and just after war, as in the crimes of ethnic cleansing and genocide).

Punishment for Common Crimes in Islam.

The Quran prescribes the following punishment for thievery:

“As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands as an exemplary punishment from Allah for their crime: and Allah is exalted in power.  But if the thief repents after his crime, and amends his conduct, Allah turns to him in forgiveness; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 5:41-42)

Even today, punishments for common crimes can be very severe in Muslim countries. (Apparently, there is no way for Islamic criminal courts to tell whether or not Allah has forgiven a particular thief at the time of sentencing.)

Honor Killing and Stoning

On May 28, 2014, an article by Terrence McCoy in The Washington Post bore this Headline: “In Pakistan, 1,000 Women Die in ‘honor killings’ Annually. Why is this happening?”  The article reads, in part:

“On Tuesday, a pregnant 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family for marrying a man she loved.

“The stoning took place in the middle of the day, outside a courthouse, beside a busy thoroughfare. The woman and her husband had been in love, her husband said, and they’d gone to a courthouse to sign the paperwork. Outside, the woman’s father, brothers and extended family waited. When the couple emerged, the family reportedly tried to snatch her, then murdered her.

‘I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” her father told police, adding that it had been an ‘honor killing.’ “

The anecdote is horrifying. But even more horrifying is the regularity with which honor killings and stonings (rajm) occur in Pakistan. Despite creeping modernity, secular condemnation and the fact that there’s no reference to stoning in the Quran, honor killings claim the lives of more than 1,000 Pakistani women every year, according to a Pakistani rights group. 71

Killings of this kind take place today in Pakistan, Egypt, Syria and in some parts of Africa – Most of those countries and regions are Muslim. 72   

Stoning as Punishment for Adultery

Not all stoning is intended to kill someone.  It is also used as a severe punishment, usually for adultery.

No mention of stoning or other capital punishment for adultery is found in the Quran. Instead, the Quran 24:2 (Surah an-Nur) prescribes lashing as punishment for premarital and extramarital sex.

However, stoning (rajm) is mentioned in multiple hadiths as a punishment for adultery.(e.g., Hadith Sahih Muslim 17:4191-4209 and 17:4916 & 17:41940.) Therefore, most Muslims and all Sunni and Shia schools of jurisprudence accept it as a prescribed punishment for adultery. 73

Eighty-three percent of Pakistanis support stoning for adultery according to a Pew survey, and only 8 percent oppose it. Even those who chose modernity over Islamic fundamentalism overwhelmingly favor stoning, according to a Pew Research Center Report, “Pakistani Public Opinion,” published on 8-13-2009.

Our Practice of Continuing Creation asks:  Quranic verses often describe Allah only in good terms — as the “Merciful and Compassionate.” If so, why is there still stoning for adultery in a number of Islamic countries?  Why are crimes still punished by cutting off of ears, hands, noses?  Some argue that this is not Islam, this is Arab custom.  Yet Islam grew out of Arab culture.  Islam has had 1400 years in which to eliminate these practices from those Muslim societies, and still has not done so.

Isn’t the Torah Just as Violent as The Quran?

Canadian humanist writer and podcaster Dr. Ali A. Rizvi, in “An Open Letter to Moderate Muslims,” in the Huffington Post on 10/6/14, points out that the Torah is just as violent as the Quran: “The Old Testament has just as much violence, if not more, than the Quran. Stoning blasphemers, stoning fornicators, killing homosexuals — it’s all in there. When you get about ten verses deep into Deuteronomy 20, you may even swear you’re reading a rulebook for ISIS (the  Islamic State extremist movement).”

Rizvi goes on to ask why today’s Jews have been able to get beyond that Old Testament cruelty: “The book of the Jews is not much different from my book [the Quran]. How, then, are the majority of them [the Jews] secular? How is it that most don’t take too seriously the words of the Torah/Old Testament — originally believed to be the actual word of God revealed to Moses much like the Quran to Muhammad — yet still retain strong Jewish identities?”

The answer for Dr. Rizvi and (we Weavers of Continuing Creation agree) is that the Jews lived in western Europe for hundreds of years, benefitting from the Enlightenment and the Reformation, which informed Judaism with key ideas of universal human rights, democracy, universal education, critical thinking, evidence-based scholarship, and balance of powers.   

But between the years 750 and 1258, Islam did have a long “Golden Age” of cultural tolerance.  This era of progress and free inquiry took place under two successive caliphates centered in two different locales.  We will discuss Islam’s “Golden Age” later in this Essay.

Allah’s Relationship to Kafirs (i.e, to Infidels, unbelievers)

Dr. Bill Warner writes that 64% of the Quran is about non-Muslims, i.e. kafirs. Quranic verses about what Muslims should do are religious; while verses about non-Muslims is political. Therefore, based on the verse count, The Quran is far more about politics than it is about religion. 74

Muhammad taught that believers are totally different than unbelievers.  In contrast, Jesus said “love thy neighbors,” drawing no distinction between his followers and non-followers.

In the preface to his An Abridged Koran, Dr. Bill Warner writes that kafirs can be enslaved (Hadith Bukhari 5, 58, 148), raped (Hadith Ishaq 759), beheaded (Quran 47:4), terrorized (Quran 8:12), deceived (Bukhari 5,59,369), annihilated (Quran 6:45), crucified (Quran 4:91), and warred upon (Quran 9:29).  Why? Because they are ignorant, evil, liars, disgraced, partners of Satan, unclean, cursed.  75

These citations show that Muslim intolerance was a tool of ethnic cleansing prior and violent political and cultural unification.  In modern times, Muslim intolerance toward unbelievers has been exacerbated by United States military invasions, such as the mistaken hunt for bogus “weapons of mass destruction” leading to war between the U.S. and Iraq, 2003-2011.  

Participants in Nature’s Continuing Creation say:  Muhammad’s abhorrence of unbelievers is a Shortcoming of Islam.  Continuing Creation maintains that every human who is born has the right to believe in and practice the religion of his or her choice, provided that practice does not affect the civil rights of others, nor the rights of animals, plants, nor of the Earth itself to live in healthy and diverse ecological balance.

Does Islam Proselytize?

Yes, Islam does proselytize. Muslims consider inviting others to Islam and is now a collective duty of Muslims. Quran 16, is known as ‘The Bee’ Chapter (surah). The natural, cooperative industry of bee colonies is praised at ayah (verse) 68. Then, verse 125 says this: “Invite [all] to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and reason with them in ways that are best. Your Lord knows best who is straying from His path and who is being guided [towards it].”

Does Islam Convert by the Sword?

Islamic law prohibits forced conversion, following the Quranic principle that there is “no compulsion in religion” (Quran 2:256). However, episodes of forced conversions have occurred in the history of Islam. Whether this has been frequent or rare is debated by scholars. (See the Wikipedia article, “Forced Conversion” in the article’s Section on Islam.)

Unlike Christianity, Islam Has Not Had a Reformation

Islam has not experienced a religious Reformation such as Christianity had in the 16th century in Europe.  In his book, God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens writes: “Only in Islam has there been no reformation… [It’s] been some time since Judaism and Christianity practiced torture and censorship.  Islam still claims the right to do both. Islam also claims the right to condemn doubters to eternal fire in almost all its dominions, and still preaches that these same dominions can and must be extended by war.” 76

On the other hand, Islam has experienced (and could again experience) a long “Golden Age of Tolerance,” which we discuss in our next section.

Islam’s “Golden Age”

While Progressive Islam is struggling today, there was a long historical period of progressive Islam called the “Islamic Golden Age,” or “Golden Age of Tolerance”. This was a 600-year period of cultural, economic, and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from around 661 to 1258. 77 The Golden Age had two successive geographic centers:

  1. The Umayaad Caliphate, 661-750, starting in Damascus, culminating in Cordoba, Spain.
  2. The Abbasid Caliphate, 750-1258, centered in Baghdad, in what is now Iraq.

661-750 – Umayyad Caliphate.  Starting in Damascus in 661 and reaching grandeur in Cordoba, Spain around 750.  Over time, this Caliphate added the Caucasus, the Maghreb, and most of the Iberian Peninsula (current-day Spain and Portugal).  In its later years, the caliphate was centered in Cordoba, Spain, site of the magnificent Alhambra Palace and fortress complex. This was an era of tolerance, science, and culture.  Islam in Iberia is also known as the Al-Andalus.

Note: Reason and Science both depend on evidence-based thinking. The Quran itself draws

Court of the Lions, Alhambra Palace, Cordoba Spain

The Alhambra Palace, in Cordoba, Spain

attention to the danger of conjecturing without evidence. Quran 17:35-36 says, “And follow not that of which you have not the (certain) knowledge of…” And several different verses ask Muslims to require proofs, such as Quran 2:111 – “Bring your proof if you are truthful.” This would seem to apply both in matters of theological belief and in natural science.  This insistence upon finding proofs is a Strength of Islam.  Nature’s Way of Continuing Creation, which is based on Nature, Reason, and History, also requires evidence for its assertions.

Non-Muslim groups in the Umayyad Caliphate included Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and pagan Berbers. Non-Muslims were given a legally protected status as second-class citizens as long as they accepted the political supremacy of the ruling Muslims. They were allowed to have their own courts and were given freedom of their religion within the empire. 

Although the Umayyad portion of the “Golden Age” is said to have ended around 750, portions of Spain and Portugal remained under Muslim control until 1492 when the last city, Grenada, fell to the Catholic armies of Ferdinand & Isabella. 78

750-1258 – Abbasid Caliphate.  (Based in Baghdad, modern-day Iraq.)  “Their time was marked by scientific, cultural artistic, and religious prosperity.” Both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to gather all the world’s classical knowledge and translate it into Arabic. “In virtually every field of endeavor — in astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, medicine, optics and so forth — Baghdad’s “House of Wisdom” scholars and polymaths were in the forefront of scientific advance.” 79 In this long era, Islam produced algebra, and the concept of contagious disease 80 Unfortunately, The Golden Age of Islamic Tolerance and intellectual achievement was lost when the Mongols invaded and sacked Baghdad in 1258 and destroyed all 70 of its great libraries. 

These two long historical periods of Progressivism are Strengths of Islam. They demonstrate that Islam could once again modernize and become more ecumenical and tolerant.

Population Control in Islam?

Birth Control in Islamic Nations

The Quran does not make any explicit statements about the morality of contraception, but rather contains statements encouraging procreation.  However, since early Islamic history, Muslim scholars approved of the use of birth control if the two spouses both agreed to it. 81 Today, in many Muslim-majority countries, birth control (and family planning in general) is readily accessible. 82

Abortion in Islamic Nations

The Quran does not directly address intentional abortion, leaving greater discretion to the laws of individual countries. Muslim views on abortion are shaped by the Hadith as well as by the opinions of legal and religious scholars and commentators. Although opinions among Islamic scholars differ over when a pregnancy can be terminated, there is no complete ban on a woman’s right to end a pregnancy under Islamic law.  See Wikipedia, Islam and Abortion83 Islam’s progressive views on birth control and abortion are Strengths of this religion.  

Women in Islam

Note: There is a long and exhaustive article on Women in Islam in Wikipedia. It runs for many pages and it cites 672 footnotes. This section of our Essay paraphrases points made in that comprehensive and excellent article.

Up front, we can say nearly the all the topics in the next several sections are extreme Shortcomings of Islam and/or Islamism. These include: misogyny, women’s limited property and inheritance rights, the diminished sanctity of Muslim marriage, polygyny, the person-hood denying clothing women are required to wear, the practice of wife beating and “honor killing,” female circumcision, the sexual enslavement of captured non-Muslim women, and the child marriage of women.

Islamic Personal Status Laws

Sharia (Islamic Religious Law) is the basis for personal status laws in most Islamic majority nations. These personal status laws determine rights of women in matters of marriage, divorce, and child custody. A 2011 UNICEF report concluded that Sharia law provisions are discriminatory against women from a human rights perspective. For example, in legal proceedings under Sharia law, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s testimony before a court. 84

Islamic Women’s Property Rights

Sharia grants women the right to inherit property from other family members, and these rights are detailed in the Quran. However, a woman’s inheritance is unequal and less than a man’s, depending on many factors. For instance, a daughter’s inheritance is usually half that of her brother’s. (Quran 4:11-12.)

Muslim Marriage

Marriage in Islam is a legal contract, not a religious sacrament.  Legally, the marriage contract requires two things:  Signed agreement to the marriage by the bride’s father, and the groom’s payment of a gift (dowry) to the bride herself.  (She gets to keep it, or she is expected to buy furnishings with it.) 85 The Book of Continuing Creation does not entail sacraments, but we regard marriage as a deep and serious life commitment, especially when a couple raises children. See our Essay, Leading a Virtuous & Honorable Life.

There are many verses in the Quran that say that women are inferior.  (See the Wikipedia article at: http://www.wikiislam.net/wiki/Qur%27an,_Hadith_and_Scholars: Women.)  However, there has been progress toward equal rights for women since the days of Muhammad.  See our section on “Progressive Islam,” earlier in this Essay.

Dr. Bill Warner has counted the number of verses mentioning women and has sorted them into groups:  those that give women High Status, Equal Status, and Low Status.  The numbers are 7%, 25%, and 67% respectively.  86

Muslim apologists say that Muhammad actually advanced the status of women over the practices in the prior pagan cultures of Arabia, and that today’s harsher treatment of women derives from a regression from “true Islam” that happened after the Mongol invasions and the Crusades in the 11th through 13th centuries. 87

The apologists say that the Quran provided women with explicit rights to inheritance, to property, the obligation to testify in a court of law, and the right to divorce. It made explicit prohibitions on the use of violence against female children and women as well as on duress in marriage and community affairs. See http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Wood/women.htm.  

That may be true, but let’s see what is written in the Quran and the Hadith; and also take a look at what is actually taking place in Muslim countries today.

  • Muslim men are permitted to engage in Polygany and marry non-Muslim women, but Muslim women are forbidden from having multiple husbands and marrying non-Muslim men: Quran 4:3: “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.”

  • Female inheritances are usually half of their male siblings (Quran 4:11).

  • Modern Muslim societies’ attitudes toward women’s testimony range from completely rejecting female testimony in certain legal areas, to conditionally accepting half-worth that of a male. Some modern countries now completely accept women’s testimony without any gender bias. 88

  • The custom or institution purdahcalls for the physical separation of the sexes.  For example, at daily prayers, women must kneel behind the men.

  • Traditional interpretations of Islam require a woman to have her husband’s permission to leave the house and take up employment, though scholars such as Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ebrahim Jannaati have said that women do not require a husband’s permission to leave the house and work. 89

  • The cultural institution of awrah says women’s clothing must conceal most of their bodies from men. However, many say that Islamic institutions suppressing women were becoming less powerful until the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism at the end of the 20th century. 90

  • As we discussed earlier: the Quran allows husbands to beat their wives (Quran 4:34). We further discuss this topic below.

  • According to Muhammad, women lack common sense because their minds are deficient (Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari #2658); and The Quran permits husbands to have sex with their female captives and slaves. (Quran 23:1-6).

Women’s Clothing – The Hijab and the Burka

Although the Quran does not explicitly require Muslim women to cover their faces or heads, the observance of sexual modesty and plain dress for both Muslim men and women is prescribed by the ḥadīth (reports of sayings attributed to Muhammad) and the sunnah (traditional Islamic practices). The Quran itself says only this:

“And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head coverings to cover their bosoms, and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire (eunuchs), or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful.” —  Quran 24:31

In conservative Muslim countries today, men can wear any sort of respectable clothing they want, including short sleeved shirts to accommodate the heat.  But women in public, despite the lack of any specific directive from the Quran, must be clothed from head to toe in bulky tent-like bags called burka, chadri, or paranja depending on the country.  91 Some Muslim women wear niqabs, which are often confused with the burka.

In other countries, women are required to wear a hijab – a scarf which covers a woman’s head, hair, neck and often her chest, but not her face. These rules of apparel are enforced by Islamic religious police, who often carry sticks that they use to strike women who are “disobedient.”

As J.X. Mason writes this on 9-26-22, women in Iran are rising up in protest against the death of an Iranian woman arrested for “improper wearing of the Hijab,” a woman who died during her punishment at the hands of the Iranian “morality police.”  Massive crowds of women are marching, burning their hijabs (head scarves), displaying their hair, cutting their hair, and skirmishing with the authorities.  

Islam’s Personal Rules Are Similar to Orthodox Judaism’s Personal Rules

In the prescription of personal behaviors, Islam is similar to Orthodox Judaism. Both religions have scriptural commandments about how to dress, when and how to pray, foods that cannot be eaten, and foods that must be stored and prepared in special ways.  

We are all aware that in many conservative Islamic communities, women must cover their hair with hijab in public. Similarly, in highly observant, Orthodox communities of Judaism, women must not display their hair in public. Solutions include scarves, snoods, hats, and wigs sewn together from hair purchased from other women.  92 This tendency to dominate the personal lives of its followers is a clear Shortcoming of Islam (and of Orthodox Judaism).

Wife Beating

There is no sidestepping the notorious passage from the Quran’s so-called “Women Surah” (4:34) that permits husbands to beat their wives when the wives disobey, or when husbands suspect their wives of disobedience:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given men more strength than the women, and because the men support the women from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard. As for those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them first; next, refuse to share their beds; and last, beat them.  But if they return to obedience, seek not a way against them: For Allah is Most High, Great above you all.”  (Quran 4:34)

In 2008, Amina and Sarah Said of Texas were allegedly killed by their father after he found out they were dating non-Muslims.  In late 2009, in Arizona, 20-year-old Noor Almaleki died after her father ran her over.  Police say he claimed he did so because she was too Americanized before he pleaded not guilty to murder. 93

(For more information, see the Wikipedia article, Islam and Domestic Violence.)

In modern times, cross-national organizations such as Musawah, and CEDAW have proposed ways to modify Sharia-inspired laws to improve women’s rights in Islamic nations, including women’s rights in domestic abuse cases. (See our Section on Progressive Islam.)

Women Are More Likely to Go to Hell than Men

Muhammad offered women little hope for the afterlife. Indeed, he clearly states that most of the inhabitants of hell are women who were ungrateful to their husbands:

[Muhammad said], “O women! Give to charity, for I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-Fire were women.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the reason for it?” He said: “O women! You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. O women, some of you can lead a cautious man astray.” (Hadith Sahih Al-Bukhari, 2658)

Female Concubines

Slave women were acquired mainly as concubines and menials. A Muslim slaveholder was entitled by law to the sexual enjoyment of his slave women. While free women might own male slaves, they had no right to have sex with the men. 94

The Quran permits Muslims to have sex with their female captives and slaves (i.e., those women “whom their right hands possess”).  As Muslim armies raided town after town, they captured many women, who would often be sold or traded:

“We went out with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi’l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them.“ (Hadith Sahih Muslim, 3371).

Of course, Muslims were hardly the only slave-owning men on planet Earth to have sex with slaves. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, had six children with “his” slave, Sally Hemmings, according to historians and genetic research.   

Polygyny – Muslim Men with Multiple Wives

Polygany is the marriage of one man to several women. The Quran allows a Muslim man to have up to four wives, provided he can support and care for all of them:

“If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.” (Qur’an 4:3).

In addition to four wives, each Muslim man was also allowed to have an unlimited number of concubines (e.g., “a captive that your right hand possesses.” Historically, the concubines were often female infidels that had been captured through war.  On several occasions, Muhammad himself took a captive girl as his sex slave.  The names of these women are usually given in the verses of the applicable Sirah (biographies of Muhammad).

Today, however, “the vast majority of Muslims do not consider slavery, especially slave concubinage, to be acceptable practices for the modern world.” See Islamic Views on Concubinage. 95    

Today, most modern Muslims view the practice of polygyny as allowed, but unusual and not recommended.  For more detailed information, see the Wikipedia article, Polygyny in Islam. 96    

And last, but not least, after life is over, Muslims will still be having sex with slaves: “Allah says to the Muslims in Paradise:  ‘Go to your slave-girls and concubines in the garden of Paradise.’“ (Hadith Ibn Arabi, Mishkat, 101)

Female Circumcision, i.e., Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The Quran does not mention FGM or male circumcision. 97

Present-day Senior Muslim religious authorities agree that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is neither required nor prohibited by Islam. 98 FGM is praised in a few hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) as noble but not required, though the authenticity of these hadith has been questioned.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, “An estimated 200 million girls and women alive today are believed to have been subjected to FGM… Girls and women who have undergone FGM live predominately in sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States, but FGM is also practiced in select countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.” 99

Note: Female circumcision ranges from removal of small portion of the clitoris, the whole clitoris, to even the labia. 100

For more information, see:  Religious views on female genital mutilation – Wikipedia

The Treatment of Captured Yazidi Women

In October 2014, the United Nations reported that more than 5,000 Yazidis had been murdered and 5,000 to 7,000 (mostly women and children) had been abducted by ISIS. 101

“The Genocide of Yazidis by the Islamic State (ISIS) was carried out in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in the mid-2010s. The genocide led to the expulsion, flight, and effective exile of the Yazidis.

Thousands of Yazidi women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by ISIS, and thousands of Yazidi men were killed. Five thousand Yazidi civilians were killed during what has been called a “forced conversion campaign” carried out by ISIS in Northern Iraq. The genocide began after the withdrawal of Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga, which left the Yazidis defenseless.” 102

Captured Yazidi women were treated as sex slaves or spoils of war [by the Islamic State, ISIS].  Some are driven to suicide. Women and girls who convert to Islam were sold as brides; those who refuse to convert are tortured, raped and eventually murdered. Babies born in the prison where the women were held are taken from their mothers to an unknown fate. 103

Note: Rape is considered a crime in all Islamic countries, but Sharia courts in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia in some cases allow a rapist to escape punishment by marrying his victim, while in other cases the victim who complains is often prosecuted with the crime of adultery. 104

Despite the oppression Yazidi women have sustained, they have appeared on the news as examples of retaliation. They have received training and taken positions at the frontlines of the fighting, making up about a third of the Kurd–Yazidi coalition forces, and have distinguished themselves as soldiers. 105

Islam and Slavery

Slavery in the Arab world started long before the 300-year period when white plantation bought from Muslim wholesalers on the West coast of Africa and shipped the slave to plantations in the New World.  For 1400 years Islam waged jihad in Africa, India and Europe to enslave non-Muslims.  Muslims ran the slave markets, not only on the West coast of Africa, but in North Africa and East Africa, and all this had been going on for hundreds of years before Muhammad was born. 106

Little wonder then, that slavery was already deeply embedded in Arab life when Islam was invented.  The word “slave” was a neutral, or even a positive word in Islam.  After all, every Muslim is a “slave of Allah.”  Slaves were part of the natural order of Muslim society, and Islam sustained slavery for hundreds of additional years after the death of Muhammad.

A believer, a Muslim, may not be enslaved. Only the unbelievers, kafir, can be enslaved. If a slave converts to Islam, then freedom is a possibility. 107

The Quran encourages the freeing (manumission) of slaves; Quran 24:33, for example.  (For more, See the Wikipedia article, Islamic Views on Slavery.)

The Slavery of Women Captured in Islamic War

Sharia authorized the institution of slavery, using the word abd (slave) and the phrase “that which your right hand owns” to refer to women slaves, seized as captives of war. Annemarie Schimmel, a contemporary scholar on Islamic civilization, asserts that because the status of slaves under Islam could only be obtained through either being a prisoner of war (this was soon restricted only to infidels captured in a holy war) or born from slave parents, slavery could be theoretically abolished with the expansion of Islam. 108

Under Islamic law, Muslim men could have sexual relations with female captives and slaves, but not if the women were married. 109

(For more information, see the Wikipedia articles, Women in Islam and Islam and Domestic Violence.)

Child Marriage in Islam

The three quotations below were written by Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi, in “Child Marriage in the Middle East and North Africa,” April 22, 2010, published by Population Reference Bureau:

  1. “Several international human rights agreements protect children from child marriage, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Convention of Eradication of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
  2. “Nevertheless, a considerable number of families take advantage of religious laws that condone an earlier marriage age, and arrange for their daughters to marry in religious wedding ceremonies, postponing the official registration until the bride reaches the legal age.
  3. “Here are Percentages of Women Ages 20 to 24 who were Religiously Married before age 18: Yemen, 32%; Palestine 19%; Egypt 17%; Iraq 17%, Morocco, 16%, Syria 13%.”

LGBT in Islam

Below are three quotations from the Wikipedia article, LGBT in Islam.  (All three of the quotations are heavily footnoted in that article): 

  1. “Modern historians conclude that the Islamic prophet Muhammad never forbade homosexual relationships, although he shared contempt towards them alongside his contemporaries. However, both the Quran and the hadith strongly condemn homosexual activity.
  2. “Homosexual acts are forbidden in traditional Islamic jurisprudence and are liable to different punishments, including flogging, stoning, and the death penalty… However, homosexual relationships were generally tolerated in pre-modern Islamic societies…
  3. “[Today,] homosexual intercourse is illegal under sharia law, though the prescribed penalties differ from one school of jurisprudence to another… In Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Iraq, and the Indonesian province of Aceh, same-sex sexual acts are illegal, and LGBT people regularly face violence and discrimination.” Political Islamism often emphasizes the creation of Islamic states, pan-Islamic political unity, the creation of Islamic states, and the outright removal of non-Muslim influences (particularly of all Western influences in the Muslim world, because these are regarded as neocolonial and incompatible with Islam.) 

Political Islamism – Conquest, Ethnic Cleansing, Forced Conversion, Theocracy, & Jihad

“Political Islamist strategies may advocate a ‘revolutionary’ strategy through exercise of state power, or alternately, a ‘reformist’ strategy of re-Islamizing society through grassroots social and political activism.” 110

Political Islamism often has militant branches that still conduct attempts at conversion by conquest and by enforced decree.  This has been done by in the modern era by The Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and by ISIS.  A notable example is the harsh treatment of the Yazidis by the forces of ISIS, as we discussed a bit earlier in this Essay.

Note: We are reminded of Communist rule in the USSR and North Korea, of China under Chairman Mao, of Catholicism during the Inquisition, and of the theocratic Puritans in New England in the 1600’s and 1700’s. 

Many Politically Islamist nations are authoritarian, theocratic, or even totalitarian. In those nations the religious world is closely tied to the political world.  Speech and personal dress are prescribed and controlled.  There may be Islamic religious police and extensive use of propaganda.  Having “religious police” in a Muslim nation is a Shortcoming of Islamism.

War and Terrorism in Islam

Whereas Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40), the Quran tells us, “Whoso commits aggression against you, do you commit aggression against him.” (Quran 2:149). The Practice of Continuing Creation would say, “Maintain strength sufficient to deter aggression; negotiate to seek common ground; undertake measured violence as a last resort.” Note: See the Wikipedia article, “Islam and War.” For a list of all the Quran verses evidencing the violence of jihad warfare, go to http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Themes/jihad_passages.html.

The Sira show the importance of Islam’s political nature, i.e., of Islamism. Muhammad preached the religion of Islam for 13 years in Mecca and only gained 150 followers. He moved to Medina where he became a politician and warrior. After only 10 years of war, he became ruler of all Arabia. He was involved in an event of warfare every 6 weeks for the last 9 years of his life. Statistical conclusion – Islam’s success came from war and politics, not religion.  However, it is estimated that only 1018 Muslims were killed, in total, in all the battles of Muhammad’s wars. 111

Muhammad Was at War from Very Early On. 

There is no clearer way to show prevalence of war in the early years of Islam than to look at this section from our Timeline (Appendix. A). This timeline mentions 13 battles and sieges between 624 and 631. 

Note that after the battles of Badr and Uhud (624-625), Muhammad’s forces expelled two Jewish Arab tribes from Medina because they would not convert to Islam.

In 632, a few months after returning to Medina from The Farewell Pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam, and he had united Arabia into a single Muslim religious polity. 

Muhammad also gave a farewell sermon in which he said,

“… This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion; but whoever is compelled by hunger, not inclining willfully to sin, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 5:4)

After Muhammad’s death in 632, a series of five main Caliphates (interspersed with 11 minor ones) continued subjugating other lands for 188 years, until the year 750.  A Caliph is a supreme religious and political leader of an Islamic state. 

So, the great expansion of Islam happened not through the travel and communications of traders from Mecca, but by military conquest instead.  112

Thus, from its beginning we see that Islam is the most warlike of any major religion. This strong tradition of military conquest and conversion is a clear Shortcoming of Islam.  Except for early Judaism, (“Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho”), the other great religions were largely peaceful. Neither Lao Tzu, Buddha, nor Jesus ever led an army. 

Post-war Religious Violence by Muslims

Here are verses from the Quran about the violence that was done, and should be done, after Islamic wars of conquest and conversion:

  • Quran 4:89, saying to “seize and kill” disbelievers.
  • Quran 8:12-13, saying God sent angels to “smite the necks and fingertips” of disbelievers, prescribing “grievous penalty” for whoever opposes Allah and his Messenger.
  • Quran 5:33 saying those who “spread corruption” (a vague phrase widely believed to include blasphemy and apostasy) should be “killed or crucified.”
  • Quran 47:4, prescribes “smiting on the necks” for disbelievers encountered in jihad.

Islamist Theocracy and the Caliphates

After Muhamad died, the Muslim world was governed by successive Caliphates. A caliphate is a theocratic political system governing a country or a set of countries in accordance with the Islam and its Sharia Law.  However, the first such theocracy, ruled by Muhammad himself, is not called a “Caliphate.” Our Timeline of Islam (Appendix A) shows the names and dates of the principal Caliphates.

Government and religion are welded together in Islam more than in any other major religion on Earth. Muhammad and the Caliphates did what Judaism originally expected that a Messiah would do — establish a theocracy, a Rule of God on Earth.  Continuing Creation regards theocracy as a Shortcoming of Islamism, because theocracy represses free speech, and therefore represses reason and science.

Is Islam Inherently Violent?

Arab culture is one of paternal, male-dominated, command and control. That culture is clearly reflected in Islam.  Its principal prophet, Muhammad, actually led his followers into warfare. We also see male domination in the Old Testament.

So, the religion of Islam has a warlike cast, and we have the phenomenon of “political jihad.” This warlike theme is also reflected in its treatment of women and its harsh punishments for minor crimes. And we see that Islam gets along just fine inside Muslim political dictatorships.

A look at our Timeline for this Essay (Appendix A) shows that Muhammad was fighting wars of conversion and domination by the year 624 — only 14 years after supposedly staring to receive his first Quranic dictation from the Angel Gabriel.  After that, Islam’s twin pursuit of military conquest and religious conversion continued until Islam has become the second largest world religion, surpassed only by Christianity. 

The last major Islamic expansion was attempted by the Ottoman Turks, who conquered Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453. The Ottomans then besieged the Austrian city of Vienna in 1683, where they were defeated by a coalition of the Viennese Hapsburg Monarchy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Holy Roman Empire. (See Wikipedia, Battle of Vienna.)

Today, many Islamic countries are theocracies, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Many Wahhabi Muslims today believe that Islam calls for a new Caliphate covering the whole Middle East, if not the whole world.  Conservative Muslims fear the spread of Western secularism, while Westerners fear the spread of “Radical Islam at the hands of ISIS.” 

Liberal Islamic writers point out that Israel has not in fact become a theocracy, and yet preserves its Jewish identity and religious practice.  Why, they ask, can’t Muslims accomplish the same thing?  Perhaps it is because the Jews spent so many centuries in the West, learning about human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and science.  (However, there are factions in Israel who still wish to establish a Jewish theocracy.) 

Comparing Islamist Wars to Ancient Jewish Wars and Modern Israeli Wars

Was the Islamist partnership between military conquest and religious conversion so different from what happened in Judaism or Catholicism? 

The earliest version of the Jewish God, Yahweh, was clearly a tribal God of war.  It is Yahweh who “gives” the Land of Canaan to the twelve tribes of Israel. However, despite its gift status, the land must first be conquered by destroying the native Canaanites. The Jewish conquest of Canaan – the “Promised Land” – is described in the first 24 Chapters of the Book of Joshua.

Further in the Old Testament, in the First Book of Samuel, God speaks (through the prophet Samuel) to the soon-to-be-king, King Saul, saying:

“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”  (Book 1 Samuel 15:3, New International Version)

However, in the later Books of the Old Testament, Jehovah becomes less a God of war and more a God of Law. 113

While Judaism progressed from a vision of Yahweh as a war-champion who loves the smell of burned meat to a judging but fair father figure, Islam has gone in the other direction.  It began with a vision of peaceful Allah, which then rapidly evolved into seeing Allah as a war-champion who helped Muhammad conquer all of Arabia.

Modern Palestinians many of whom were displaced by Israeli settlers and state of Israel complain about what they see as land-theft and denial of rights under Israeli rule.  Modern wars and continual skirmishes have taken place.

Comparing Islamist Wars to Christian Wars

Islam’s spread via military-religious partnership is not so different from the story of Roman Catholicism’s spread across western Europe, and later into the New World. 

The pagan Romans had already conquered much of the Western Mediterranean and Europe by the time Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the year 312. With the fighting for most of the empire already done, the new Catholic religion could piggy-back on the structure, power, and discipline of Roman government.

During and after the reign of Pope Constantine, Christian Catholicism drew organizational strength from the Roman Empire’s political power structure until Rome fell, by degrees, between 376 and 476 CE.  Still, compared to Islam, Christianity’s political and religious spheres were kept more separate in the history of Western Europe after the fall of Rome.

The Christians also had periods of war-violence between 1081 and 1291, when European followers of Roman Catholic Christianity fought the Christian Crusades in attempts to take and hold the “Holy Land” against Islamic armies. The Christians ultimately lost.

Pope Julius II, the “Warrior Pope,” (1443-1512) used both military and diplomatic interventions during his nine-year pontificate to avert a take-over by France of the Italian States (including the Papal States). He also proved a bulwark against Venetian expansionism. 

With the colonization of the New World, particularly Spain and Portugal’s colonization of Mexico down through Argentina (roughly 1500 to 1533), the partnership between Catholic soldiers and Catholic priests became more overt. The entire New World, south of the United States, was conquered by Spanish & Portuguese armies, and then converted to Christianity by Catholic priests, monks, and nuns.  

Between 1500 and 1660, Christians burned “tens or hundreds of thousands” of alleged “witches,” a practice that was eventually overcome by a combination of the European Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Reformation114

Militant Jihadism – The Often Violent, Terrorist Struggle to Impose Islamism

Earlier, we discussed “inner jihad,” which is a Muslim’s spiritual struggle to eliminate his or her doubts and move close to true Islam.

Now we want to talk about “external jihad,” or jihadism, which inspires military or terrorist violence deployed to move non-Muslims out of a Muslim area, or to forcefully convert non-Muslims to Islam.  Jihadism is an outgrowth of Political Islamism.

A chronological order of the Quran (Appendix A) shows that Islam moved in a more violent direction across the span of Muhammad’s life.  Even the earliest years of Islam involved local warfare between Muslim and non-Muslim factions in the cities of Mecca and Medina.

As we saw earlier, the Quran’s “Sword Verse” (9:5) abrogates the “no compulsion in religion” verse (2:256).  So, tendencies toward authoritarianism and violence were present in Islam from the outset, and they remain heavily embodied in Islam today.

The “Sword Verse” (Surra 9, Verse 5):

“But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”  (Quran 9:5)

The Quran has verses about both un-forced conversion and forced conversion after violent military conquest. The following verse allows some Infidels to remain in Islamic lands if they pay a tax, keep quiet, and stay out of the way:   

“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah… until they pay the Jizya [tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”  (Quran 9:29).

Modern Salafism and Wahhabism

The Salafi movement within Islam seeks to return back to the purest, most primitive Islam of the earliest Muslims. 115

A militant form of Salafism is Wahhabism, which has grown in the 21st century on a tide of money from Saudi Arabia.  Wahhabism advocates the reordering of government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam. 116

Wahhabis believe that Islam and the Judeo-Christian tradition of the West are in a fundamental clash of civilizations. That may be true, but what is clearer is that there is today a fundamental clash between Wahhabis on the one hand and an emerging Progressive Islam on the other.  117

Modern-day Jihadism and Islamic Terrorism

Today, there are over 50 Jihadi organizations promoting violence in attempts to spread Islamism around the world.  These include ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Al-Shabaab, HAMAS, Haqqani Network, Ansar al-Islam, Shining Path, The Islamic State, and Boko Haram (which means “western education is forbidden.”)  (See:  https://www.state.gov/foreign-terrorist-organizations/.)

(For more information, see the Wikipedia article, Islamic Terrorism, which perhaps should be called, “Islamist Terrorism.”)

Modern Motivations For Militant Jihadism:

  • Islamic Scholar Patricia Crone writes, ‘Wherever [the nations of Islam] look, they are being invaded by so-called Western values — in the form of giant billboards advertising self-indulgence, semi-pornographic films, liquor, pop music, fat tourists in indecent clothes and funny hats, and politicians lecturing people about the virtues of democracy.’ ” 118

  • For decades, Muslims have seen the West try to change their culture with soldiers, missionaries, rock and roll, and pornography. They feel that the West is out to drown them in a flood of violence and indecency.   

  • Under strict Wahhabism and sharia law, Muslim young men are not allowed to be intimate with Muslim young women prior to marriage. But they see that the Western Infidels are allowed to do it.  

  • The Middle East generally lacks a growing, technological economy to channel the ambitions of its people.

  • Jihadism has been fueled over the decades by U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Can Islam Become Less Violent, Less Misogynistic?

Arab culture is one of paternal, male-dominated, command and control. That culture is clearly reflected in Islam.  Its principal prophet, Muhammad, actually led his followers into warfare. We also see male domination in the Old Testament.

So, the religion of Islam has a warlike cast, and we have the phenomenon of “political jihad.” This warlike theme is also reflected in its treatment of women and its harsh punishments for minor crimes. And we see that Islam gets along just fine inside Muslim political dictatorships.

A look at our Timeline for this Essay (Appendix A) shows that Muhammad was fighting wars of conversion and domination by the year 624 — only 14 years after supposedly staring to receive his first Quranic dictation from the Angel Gabriel.  After that, Islam’s twin pursuit of military conquest and religious conversion continued until Islam has become the second largest world religion, surpassed only by Christianity. 

The last major Islamic expansion was attempted by the Ottoman Turks, who conquered Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453. The Ottomans then besieged the Austrian city of Vienna in 1683, where they were defeated by a coalition of the Viennese Hapsburg Monarchy, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Holy Roman Empire. (See Wikipedia, Battle of Vienna.)

Today, many Islamic countries are theocracies, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Many Wahhabi Muslims today believe that Islam calls for a new Caliphate covering the whole Middle East, if not the whole world.  Conservative Muslims fear the spread of Western secularism, while Westerners fear the spread of “Radical Islam at the hands of ISIS.” 

Liberal Islamic writers point out that Israel has not in fact become a theocracy, and yet preserves its Jewish identity and religious practice.  Why, they ask, can’t Muslims accomplish the same thing?  Perhaps it is because the Jews spent so many centuries in the West, learning about human rights, democracy, the rule of law, and science.  (However, there are factions in Israel who still wish to establish a Jewish theocracy.) 

In our modern era, Western countries suffered terrorist attacks on the USS Cole (2000) The World Trade Center the Pentagon (2001), and European buses and subway stations. Yazidi women were captured and abused by militant jihadists.

The continuing presence of violent and misogynistic verses in the Quran is an invitation to every new generation of Muslims to take up the sword, kill people, and repress women.  The unmarked retention of Quranic verses calling for those verses is a great Shortcoming of Islam. 

An essential part of the solution is to cross through and disapprovingly annotate all the violent jihadist and misogynistic verses in the Quran and the Hadith (and in the sacred books of all other religions as well.)  

We Followers of Nature’s Continuing Creation say that Islam could liberalize and modernize its doctrine — by emphasizing the time of the “Golden Age” caliphates, by lining-through the Quran’s many backward passages, and by developing a tradition of critical scholarship.  But Islam has a long way to go, and there may be too many backward passages in the Quran to overcome.

Life can be difficult, and if Islam works for you, we have no desire to turn you away from it.  But if you seek a different path, or if you have questions, consider The Practice of Continuing Creation.





Below is a list important dates in the history of Islam.  All the dates are in the Common Era (C.E.), i.e. they are numbered from the year of Jesus’ death.  (This timeline was taken from Islam for Dummies, pp 90-92, and from Wikipedia’s article, Timeline of 7th-century Muslim History.)

Note that fully half of Muhammad’s life in Islam was devoted to the military conquest of other tribes and cities, followed by their coerced conversion to Islam.

570 — Muhammad is born to a prosperous trading family in Mecca.
605 — Muhammad helps rebuild the Ka’ba.
610-633 – The Angel Gabriel supposedly dictates the Quran to Muhammad, in serial segments.
614 — Persecution of the Muslims by the Quraysh, a merchant tribe that controlled Mecca and its Ka’ba.
622 — The Hijra—migration to Medina. First year of Islamic calendar.
622 — Constitution of Medina.  Establishment of the first Islamic state.
624 — Battle of Badr. Expulsion of the Bani Qainuqa Jews from Medina. The direction of prayer is converted from Jerusalem to Mecca.
625 — Battle of Uhud. Expulsion of Banu Nadir Jews from Medina.
624 — Battle of Badr, AD 624.  Muhammad led 300 men against a Quraysh caravan returning from Syria.
625 — Battle of Uhud. 3,000 Meccan soldiers attack 1000-man force led by Muhammad.
627 — Battle of the Ditch. Quraysh clan from Mecca leads 10,000 against Muhammed in Medina, but they withdrew in the face of a ditch dug around Medina.
628 — Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. Battle of Khaybar. Muhammad sends letters to various heads of states.
629 — Muhammad pilgrimage to Mecca. Battle of Mu’ta.
630 – Muhammed marches on Mecca with an army of 10,000.  Mecca surrenders without a battle.
630 — Battle of Hunayn.
630 — Battle of Autas.
630 — Siege of Ta’if.
631 – Battle for Tabouk.  Muhammad captures the city from the Byzantines.
631 – Tribe of Thaqif adopts Islam. 
632 – Death of Muhammad.
632-661 – Rashidun Caliphate (based in Medina, in present-day Saudi Arabia)
632 — Battles of Zu Qissa. Battles of Zu Abraq. Battle of Buzakha. Battle of Zafar. Battle of Naqra. Campaigns against Bani Tamim and Mosailima.
633- 633 — Campaigns in Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, and Hadramaut. Raids in Iraq.Battle of Kazima, Battle of Mazar, Battle of Walaja, Battle of Ullais, Battle of Hira, Battle of Al-Anbar, Battle of Ayn al-Tamr, Battle of Dawmat al-Jandal, Battle of Firaz.
634 — Battle of Bosra, Battle of Damascus, Battle of Ajnadin. Death of Abu Bakr. Umar ibn al-Khattab assumes power as the second caliph. Battle of Namaraq, Battle of Saqatia.
635 — Battle of Bridge, Battle of Buwaib, Conquest of Damascus, Battle of Fahl.
636 — Battle of Yarmuk, Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, Conquest of Madain.
637 — Conquest of Syria, Conquest of Jerusalem, Battle of Jalula.
638 — Conquest of Jazirah.
639 — Conquest of Khuzistan. Advance into Egypt. Plague of Emmaus.
640 — Battle of Babylon in Egypt.
641 — Battle of Nihawand; Conquest of Alexandria in Egypt.
642 — Conquest of Egypt.
643 — Conquest of Azarbaijan and Tabaristan (Mazandaran).
644 — Conquest of Fars, Kerman, Sistan, Mekran and Kharan. Assassination of Umar. Uthman ibn Affan becomes the caliph.
646 — Campaigns in Khurasan, Armenia and Asia Minor.
647 — Campaigns in North Africa. Conquest of the island of Cyprus.
648 — Campaigns against the Byzantines.
650 — First conflict between Arabs and Turks. Khazars defeated an Arab force led by Abd ar-Rahman ibn Rabiah outside the Khazar town of Balanjar.
652 — Disaffection against the rule of Uthman.
655 — Naval battle of the Masts against the Byzantines.
661-750 – Umayaad Caliphate.  (Based in Damascus, Syria.)  Added Caucasus, Transoxiana, Sindh, the Maghreb and most of the Iberian Peninsula (current-day Spain and Portugal).  A Time of tolerance, science, and culture.
750-1258 – Abbasid Caliphate.  (Based in Baghdad, modern-day Iraq.)  “Their time was marked by scientific, cultural and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during their reign.”  (wiki) 
1258 – Mongols conquer of Baghdad.  Libraries are destroyed; the Golden Age of Islam ends.
1251-1516 – The Abbasid line continues in Cairo, but without significant power or progress.
1517-1924 – Ottoman Caliphate.  (Based in modern-day Turkey, and ruled by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire.) 
1917-1924 — World War I ends and the Ottoman Empire is dissolved.  Many regions populated by Muslims in Africa and Asia are colonized by Europeans. New nations are created, often without regard to the mix of the ethnic tribes living within the nations’ borders. 

Footnotes to the Essay and its Timeline:

  1. The Holy Quran, Chapter 1, Verses 1-6, translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, 2001, Islamic Book Service, New Delhi. See also, Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World, 2010, Harper One, p. 31.
  2. Quotation is from the Wikipedia article, “Islam.” See also, “Islamism – An Overview,” ScienceDirect Topics,” www.sciencedirect.com, retrieved 9-10-2021.  See also, Jeffrey M. Bale, “Islamism and Totalitarianism,” 6-1-2009, Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions. 10 (2): pp. 73–96. doi:10.1080/14690760903371313. ISSN 1469-0764. S2CID 14540501.
  3. John L. Esposito, “Islam,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, edited by J. L. Esposito, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-530513-5. See also F.E. Peters, 2009. “Allāh,” also in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, edited by J. L. Esposito. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530513-5. See also “Muslim Population by Country 2021,” World Population Review. Retrieved 7-22-2021.
  4. Quran 17:106.  See also, Gray Lambert, The Leaders Are Coming, 2013, WestBow Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-1-4497-6013-7. See also, Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew, Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future, 2012, Vanguard Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-1-59315-706-7.  See also, Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World’s Faiths (Rev. ed.), 1997, I. B. Tauris Publishers. p. 338.
  5. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One: the eight Rival Religions that Run the World, 2010, Harper One, p. 32.
  6. Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic, 1999, p. 34: ”
  7. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, p.  31
  8. How to Meditate, 1974, Little, Brown and Company.  Also available as a PDF file online.
  9. Stephen Prothero, Ibid, p. 32.
  10. Sahner, Christian C. (June 2017). “”The Monasticism of My Community is Jihad”: A Debate on Asceticism, Sex, and Warfare in Early Islam”. Arabica. Leiden and Boston: Brill Publishers. 64 (2): 149–183. doi:10.1163/15700585-12341453. ISSN 1570-0585. S2CID 165034994.
  11. Quran, 9:41. See also, “Jihad: The Arguable Sixth Pillar of Islam.” courses.washington.edu. See also, “What is Jihadism?,” BBC News, 2014-12-11.
  12. Gerhard Böwering, Patricia Crone, ed. “Jihad,” 2013, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought, Princeton University Press.
  13. Natana DeLong, “Jihad,” Oxford Bibliographies – Islamic Studies, 2-22-18 and 5-10-07, Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0045.
  14. Stephen Prothero, Ibid., p. 53.
  15. Professor Malcolm Clark, Islam for Dummies, 2003, Wiley Publishing, pp. 100-102.
  16. An Abridged Koran: The Reconstructed Historical Koran, edited by Professor Bill Warner, 2006, Center for the Study of Political Islam, pp. xii-xix.
  17. Malik Jamal, Islam in South Asia: Revised, Enlarged and Updated Second Edition, 2010, BRILL. p. 580. ISBN 9789004422711.
  18. John Wansbrough, Qurani Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation, 2004, Prometheus Books.
  19. Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007, Hachette Book Group, p. 132.  
  20. Will Jones, “What If Muhammad Didn’t Write the Quran?,” 4-26-18, Crisis Magazine: A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity.
  21. See https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/who-really-wrote-the-quran/.
  22. Dr. Bill Warner, Ed., An Abridged Koran: The Reconstructed Historical Koran, 2006, Center for the Study of Political Islam.
  23. David S. Powers, “On the Abrogation of the Bequest Verses,” Journal: Arabica, Sept. 1982, 29(3), Brill Academic Publishers, pp. 246-247 and 249-287.
  24. Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007 and 2009, Twelve: Hachette Book Group, pp. 38-9.
  25. “Patricia Crone, Questioning Scholar of Islamic History, Dies at 70,” by Sam Roberts, NYT, 7/22/15.
  26. An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed, “Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law,” 1990, Syracuse University Press. p. 57. ISBN 9780815627067.  See also, Patrick Sookhdeo, “1, Sources of Islam”. Understanding Islamic Theology,” Sources of Islam, 2013, BookBaby. ISBN 9780989290548, Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  27. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., p.58.
  28. Dr. Malcolm Clark, Islam for Dummies, 2003, Wiley Publishing, p. 190. 28

    Muhammad’s attitude and treatment towards his children, enshrined in hadith literature, is viewed by Muslims as an exemplar to be imitated. 29 Karen-Marie Yust, ed., Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World’s Religious Traditions, 2006, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 72-3.  ISBN 9780742544635.

  29. William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad Prophet and Statesman, 1974, Oxford University Press, p. 230.  See also, Wikipedia article, “Islam and Children.”
  30. William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad Prophet and Statesman, 1974, Oxford University Press, p.230.
  31. Professor William E. Phipps, Muhammad and Jesus: A Comparison of the Prophets and Their Teachings, 1999, Continuum International Publishing Group, p. 120.
  32. Richard Rodriguez, “Essay: Desert Religions,” for PBS NewsHour, broadcast 7/8/02.  See also, Frederick Turner, Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness, 1937, Rutgers University Press.
  33. Alexander Stille, “Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Quran,” New York Times (and International Herald Tribune), March 4, 2002.
  34. Malcolm Clark, Islam for Dummies, Ibid., pp. 82-3.
  35. Ministry of Hajj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, https://www.hajinformation.com/main/f0111.htm.
  36. Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120814684, page 91.
  37. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., p. 39.
  38. See, Islam in Indonesia.
  39. Malcolm Clark, Islam for Dummies, Ibid., page 82.
  40. Bruce B. Lawrence, Who is Allah?, 2015, University of North Carolina Press, p. 3.
  41. See, “Signs of God in the Quran,” Islam4U,” https://islam4u.pro/blog/signs-of-god-in-the-quran/
  42. See “Ideal Length of the Beard,” Dar-Al-Ifta Al-Missriyyah.
  43. See 99 Names of Allah (Al Asma Ul Husna).
  44. Mustansir Mir, The Qur’ān as Literature Volume 10, No.5, 2000, Renaissance, © Islamic Awareness.  See also Quran 8:10, “God may grant victory, being powerful; or may allow defeat, being wise.”
  45. H. Van der Loos, The Miracles of Jesus, 1965, E.L. Brill Press, Netherlands. See also, the Wikipedia article, Miracles of Jesus.
  46. Brooke Olson Vuckovic, Heavenly Journeys, Earthly Concerns , 2004, Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 9781135885243.
  47. Don Stewart, “Is the God of Islam Personally Knowable?” The Blue Letter Bible.
  48. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., p. 31.
  49. M. Amanullah, “Just Retribution (Qisas) Versus Forgiveness (‘Afw)”, in Islam: Past, Present and Future,” International Seminar on Islamic Thoughts Proceedings, December 2004, Department of Theology and Philosophy, Faculty of Islamic Studies Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia, pp. 871–883.
  50. Andrew Rippin, et al., The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’an ([2a reimpr.] ed.), 2006, Blackwell, ISBN 978140511752-4: See the section. “Poetry and Language, by Navid Kermani, p.107-120.
  51. Sam Roberts, “Patricia Crone, Questioning Scholar of Islamic History, Dies at 70,” New York Times, 7/22/15.
  52. The Hadith, Sahih Muslim, 41:7023; and, in Arabic, p.193, part 2.  See also, Tamara Sonn, A Brief History of Islam, 2004, Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-4051-2174-2, p. 204.
  53. Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houri.
  54. Jane I. Smith & Yvonne Y. Haddad, Islamic Understanding, 1981, SUNT Press p. 164.
  55. Seyyed Hossein Nasr; Caner K. Dagli; Maria Massi Dakake; Joseph E.B. Lumbard; Mohammed Rustom, eds., The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, 2015, HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-112586-7.
  56. See the article on “Sufism,” Britannica.com.
  57. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., pp. 59-61.
  58. Britannica.com. See also Wikipedia.com.
  59. Julia Scott Meisami, Forward to Franklin Lewis, Rumi Past and Present, East and West, Oneworld Publications, 2008 (revised edition).
  60. See – https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Dynamic_meditation.
  61. Professor Malcolm Clark, Islam for Dummies, 2003, Wiley Press, p. 230.
  62. Stephen Prothero writes, “Pluralists to the core, Progressive Muslims welcome multiple voices from within Islam and from other religious traditions. “They also believe that the struggle for justice lies at the heart of the Islamic tradition. 64 Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., p.54.
  63. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., pp. 54-57. See also, William Ochsenwald, The Middle East, A History 2004, McGraw Hill. p. 56. ISBN 0-07-244233-6.49.  from Wikipedia on Umayyad.)
  64. Alexander Stille, “Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Quran,” 3-4-2002, New York Times, (and International Herald Tribune).
  65. H. Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World: Sustainable Diversity in Law, 2014, Oxford University Press, pp. 199-205.
  66. Siraj Khan, Blasphemy Against the Prophet, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture (Editors: Coeli Fitzpatric, and Adam Hani Walker), ISBN 978-1610691772, pp. 59–67.  See also, Lutz Wiederhold, “Blasphemy Against the Prophet Muhammad and His Companions: The introduction of the topic into shafi’i legal literature and its relevance for legal practice under Mamluk rule,” 1997, Journal of Semitic Studies. 42 (1): 39–70. doi:10.1093/jss/XLII.1.39.
  67. Glenn, H. Patrick, Legal Traditions of the World, 2007, Oxford University Press, pp. 218–219.
  68. “Statistics & Data:” Honour Based Violence Awareness Network.
  69. NPR International News Roundup, 7/22/16.
  70. E. Ann Black, Hossein Esmaeili and Nadirsyah Hosen, 2014, Modern Perspectives on Islamic Law, ISBN 978-0857934475, pp. 222-223.
  71. Dr. Bill Warner, www.PoliticalIslam.com. See also Bill Warner, Editor, Epilogue to An Abridged Koran, 2006, Center for the Study of Political Islam, pp. 200-01. See also: K.S. Lal, who gives the figure of 63% in his Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India, Aditya Prakashan, 1999, New Delhi, pg. 4.
  72. An Abridged Koran: The Reconstructed Historical Koran, Dr. Bill Warner, Editor. 2006, Center for the Study of Political Islam, pp. vii – ix.
  73. Paraphrased from Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007, Twelve-Hachette Book Group, p. 125.
  74. Camilo Gómez-Rivas, Law and the Islamization of Morocco under the Almoravids: The Fatwās of Ibn Rushd al-Jadd to the Far Maghrib, 11-21-14, Brill, p. 1, note 3. ISBN 978-90-04-27984-1.
  75. See, https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/spain_1.shtml.
  76. Toby E. Huff, “The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West,” 2nd ed., 2003, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-5218-2302-1. LCCN 200203501f, 2003, p. 48.
  77. Diane Sawyer & Bill Weir, interviewing several experts on Islam, the television show, “20/20,” ABC Network, aired on 10-1-2010.
  78. Leila Hessini, “Abortion and Islam: Policies and Practice in the Middle East and North Africa,” 2007, Reproductive Health Matters. 15 (29): pp. 75–84. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080.
  79. Islam, Women and Family Planning: A Primer,” Guttmacher Institute, 9-24-2004.  Retrieved 12-3-21. See also, Wikipedia, Religion and Birth Control, the section of Islam.
  80. Alejandra Molina, “Comparing Texas’ Abortion Ban to Islamic Law is Inaccurate, Perpetuates Islamophobia, Experts Say,” Religion News Service. Retrieved 2021-10-09. See also, Dalia Hatuqa, “U.S. Muslim Advocates Weigh in on Abortion Rights Battle, 1-22-2022. www.aljazeera.com, Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  81. “MENA Gender Equality Profile – Status of Girls and Women in the Middle East and North Africa,” UNICEF (October 2011)” (PDF)
  82. Malcolm Clark, Islam for Dummies, Ibid., p. 173.
  83. Bill Warner, An Abridged Quran, Ibid., Epilogue, p. 202.
  84. Jane I. Smith, “Women in Islam: Equity, Equality, and the Search for the Natural Order,” Dec, 1979, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol 47, Dec,1979, pp. 517-537.
  85. Dr. Muhammad Atif Aslam Rao, “Islamization of Law of Evidence in Pakistan with Specific Reference to Testimony of a Woman.” 5-4-2020, Rochester, NY. SSRN 3609096.
  86. A. Rahman Doi & A. Bewley, A. (1992). Women in Shari’ah, 1992, Ta-Ha, 4th Edition; ISBN 978-1-84200-087-8. See also, Elizabeth Fernea Women and the Family in the Middle East,” New Voices of Change, 1985, University of Texas Press, ISBN 978-0-292-75529-1, pages 264–269.
  87. Mahnaz Afkhami, “Gender Apartheid, Cultural Relativism, and Women’s Human Rights in Muslim Societies,” in Women, Gender, and Human Rights: A Global Perspective, 2001, Edited by Marjorie Agosín, Rutgers University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8135-2983-2.
  88. James Vyver, “Explainer: Why do Muslim Women Wear a Burka, Niqab or Hijab?,” August 17, 2017, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 2-1-2020.
  89. See the Wikipedia article, “Head Covering for Jewish Women.”
  90. Paul Rubin, “How a Muslim Woman Was ‘Honor-Killed’ by Her Father Because He Believed She Was Too Americanized,” 4-1-2010, The Phoenix New Times.
  91. Bernard Lewis, Race and Color in Islam, Harper and Row, 1972, page 14.
  92. Kecia Ali, Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam, 2010, Harvard University Press. See also, Jonathan E. Brockopp, 2006, “Concubines,” and “Slaves and Slavery,” Encyclopedia of the Quran, Vol. 1 p. 396-397; and Vol. 5, 56-60, Brill Academic Publishers.
  93. Sumbul Karamali, The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, 2008, White Cloud Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-9745245-6-6.
  94. Abdulrahim A. Rouzi, “Facts and Controversies on Female Genital Mutilation and Islam,” 2013, The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care. 18 (1): pp. 10–14. See also, Mohamed Selim Al-Awa, “FGM in the Context of Islam” (PDF), May, 2012, The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood: 2.
  95. Abdulrahim A. Rouzi,(2013). “Facts and controversies on female genital mutilation and Islam,” 2013, The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care. 18 (1): 10–14. doi:10.3109/13625187.2012.749982. PMID 23286241. S2CID 207523575.
  96. See the UNFPA Report, “Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Frequently Asked Questions.”
  97. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Briefing Paper, International Planned Parenthood Foundation, December 2008.
  98. Lin Taylor, “Nearly 10,000 Yazidis Killed, Kidnapped by Islamic State [IS] in 2014, Study Finds,” Thomson Reuters Foundation, 5-9-2017.
  99. See the Wikipedia Article, Genocide of Yazidis by the Islamic State, Footnotes 1 through 17.
  100. Yolande Knell, “Islamic State Crisis: Yazidi Anger at Iraq’s Forgotten People,” BBC News. 9-24-2014.  See also, Ruth Gledhill, “IS in Iraq: Yazidi Women Raped, Murdered, and Sold as Brides,” Christian News on Christian Today, 8-29-2014. See also, the Wikipedia article, Yazidis
  101. See, Wikipedia, Rape in Islamic Law.
  102. Emma Graham-Harrison. Women Warriors: The Extraordinary Story of Khatoon Khider and Her Daughters of the Sun,” The Guardian, 2-12-2017.
  103. Dr. Bill Warner, “The Doctrine of Slavery: An Islamic Institution,” 2010, A Taste of Islam Series), Center for the Study of Political Islam, pp. 42-50.
  104. Dr. Bill Warner, The Doctrine of Slavery, Ibid., p 8.
  105. Annemarie Schimmel, Islam: An Introduction, 1992 US: SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-1327-6.
  106. Kecia Ali, Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam, 2010, Harvard University Press. p. 39. ISBN 9780674059177. Archived from the original on 2018-11-04. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  107. Oliver Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, 1994, Harvard University Press, p.24.  ISBN 978-0674291416.
  108. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Muhammad: A Prophet for All Humanity, 2000, Goodword (2000), p. 132.
  109. Professor Patricia Crone, with Michael Cook, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World.  1977.  Also, Patricia Crone, Questioning Scholar of Islamic History, Dies at 70, by Sam Roberts, NYT, 7/22/15.
  110. Jo Ann Hackett, “‘There Was No King in Israel’: The Era of the Judges,” in Michael David Coogan, (ed.), 2001, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513937-2.
  111. Marian F. McNeill, The Silver Bough: A Four Volume Study of the National and Local Festivals of Scotland, 1957, Vol. 1. Canongate Books. ISBN 978-0862412319.  See also, Robert Chambers, Domestic Annals of Scotland, 1861, Edinburgh, ISBN 978-1298711960. See also, George Sinclair, Satan’s Invisible World Discovered, 1871, Edinburgh.
  112. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., p. 53.
  113. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., pp. 53-4.
  114. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One, Ibid., p. 54.
  115. Sam Roberts, “Patricia Crone, Questioning Scholar of Islamic History, Dies at 70,” New York Times, 7/22/15.