Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Letter to Mojo: Part 4

Speaking of fiction and fantasy, Mr. Ahmadinejad, you have challenged President Bush and Americans in general to turn to God Almighty—whom you identify as Allah—and embrace Islam. Let me say this as politely as I can:

Please do not refer to God in such terms. It is disrespectful, blasphemous, misleading, offensive and false.

Like many Muslims, you attempt to confuse the issue by implying that Allah is the same as the God of the Bible. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just in case you’ve never heard this before, let me explain. This may be painful, but I think in the end it's actually the kindest thing we can do.

When Muhammad arrived in Mecca in the 7th century A.D., the people there were polytheists, worshiping 360 gods, the chief of whom was the moon god. In the interest of introducing monotheism along the lines of Judaism and Christianity, Muhammad attempted to eliminate the rest in favor of this deity, Al-Ilah. Again, there is all kinds of physical, archaeological evidence for this. And it's why to this day the crescent moon is the symbol of Islam throughout the world.

The only problem was that this was a hard sell for Muhammad, and the earliest drafts of the Quran included three daughters—Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Al-Manat—along with their father, Allah, as a concession to the traditionalists. This, of course, defeated the purpose of monotheism, so those references were edited down in later versions—a process called, apparently with a straight face, abrogation. And, of course, Salman Rushdie, who had the bad manners to point some of this out in his book The Satanic Verses, ended up with a death fatwa on his head from Ayatollah Khomeini for his trouble.

Right there are at least three major points of departure for us:

1. The true word of God is inerrant and does not need to be edited or "abrogated" because Almighty God, who gave it, is perfect and infallible.
2. A prophet whose utterances miss the mark in any way is a false prophet—and the Bible clearly stated that such offense was a capital crime.
3. Today, through the grace of God and civilized society, ordinary individuals are free to believe and speak as they see fit without fear for their life or limb or personal freedom.

True religion--faith in Jesus Christ--is a matter of the heart, not brute compulsion. I deeply regret that such is not the case with your system. I'll leave it to you to figure out the remaining point—what exactly is a false god that is set up against the knowledge of the true God Almighty. That, sir, is your god.

And, no, we are definitely not interested.


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