Sunday, November 22, 2009

We All Worship the Same Schizophrenic

Some congressional Republicans are threatening a filibuster to block confirmation of a federal appeals court nominee because of his religious rulings. But they won't get the support of Indiana GOP Senator, Richard Lugar.

In 2005, Judge David Hamilton ruled that the Indiana House of Representatives could not open its sessions with prayers that mentioned Jesus Christ or used terms like "savior."

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions noted that Hamilton was willing, however, to allow a Muslim cleric to offer invocations that mention Allah.

But fellow Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, who supports Hamilton, said the judge was simply allowing use of the Arabic word for God in non-sectarian invocations.

Here's a quick jaunt into history. Before Muhammed, the word "ilah" meant god or divinity. The Pagan Arabs worshipped a pantheon of gods. Each tribe had its own chief god, whom it called "al-ilah," or "the god." Allah is a shortened form of al-ilah, made conventional prior to Muhammed, and surviving into modern parlance.

The moon god, Hubal, was one of the primary gods of the Quraish tribe (Muhammed's tribe) preceding Islam's advent. Evidence exists that Hubal was Lord of the Kaaba, and known as Allah. Muhammed's contribution to the equation was separating Hubal -- or Allah -- from the flock and enthroning him as the one genuine god. This is the god of Islam. Though monotheist, Islam is a religion with pagan polytheistic origins.

Allah isn't just the Arabic word for God. It means different things to different people. To a Christian Arab, Allah is a generic name for the One True God of the Bible, whose nature is Trinitarian, and who reveals Himself and reaches out to us in the person of Jesus Christ. To a Muslim Arab, Allah is the god of the Koran, who tells his people to smite the infidels and slay the idoloters where they find them. He is the god of dhimmitude and destruction.

I see this ruling as discrimination against Christianity, regardless whatever noises to the contrary Lugar and Hamilton make. The attitude they have cultivated is that a Muslim cleric praying to Allah is a non - sectarian event -- an absurdity, on its face -- but a Christian praying to Jesus Christ is somehow partisan. They ignore context, such as the absence of a trinity in Islam. A Muslim invoking Allah is the Islamic equivalent to a Christian invoking Jesus. Yet they find no fault with the first, and decry the latter. This is either anti - Christian bigotry, or gross ignorance of comparative religion.

The implied assumption from these two men is that Muslims and Christians worship the same god. Most informed Christians would disagree; but the burden of proof lies with those making the audacious claim that two wildly divergent personalities are expressions of the same supreme being. That Muslims claim reverence for the same God as Christians is an assertion of which I remain skeptical. Claims require evidence, and the available evidence does not support the contention that Jehovah = Islam's Allah.

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