Islam Is A Monistic Paganism

“Unlike YHWH of the Hebrews, the all-transcendent Allah does not stoop to make agreements with mere human beings.”

Having never been much interested in understanding Islam, it has been helpful to read David P. Goldman’s take on it. He is Jewish, (his glowing comments concerning modern Israel are a dead giveaway), but he is surprisingly objective concerning Christianity and Islam.

In the more circumspect of his recent books, he observes that the decisive difference between Judeo-Christianity and Islam cannot be found by arguing about the amount of violence in their respective histories. Their disparate characters are exposed somewhere closer to home:

…traditional society is incompatible organically with the first principle of law in modern liberal democracy: The state wields the monopoly of violence. Sharia in principle cannot be adapted to the laws of modern democratic states, for it is founded on the deeply ingrained notion that the family is the state in miniature and that the head of the family may employ violent compulsion just as the state does. [1]

His comparison of the Judeo-Christian worldview with Islam is very telling.

…we reviewed Islam’s deep roots in tribal society. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, in which every individual participates directly in the covenant with God, Islam retains the hierarchy of pre-biblical traditional society, in which the head of a family is a miniature head of state. If the Muslim womb is closing because of a failure of faith, we must look more deeply at the faith that has failed in its encounter with modernity.

Judaism and its daughter-religion Christianity sought to distinguish themselves from paganism. But what does “paganism” actually mean? In Franz Rosenzweig’s sociology of religion, the animal ties of common ancestry define the pagan order. Individuality in the Judeo-Christian sense is inconceivable, for every member of society must bear the same identity of blood and soil as every other member, and the single member of society can be nothing other than an expression of collective blood and collective will. For this reason every institution of pagan society, emphatically including family and clan, must collapse into the totality. Here is how Rosenzweig described the absence of individuality in pre-modern society:

In the thoroughly organized State, the State and the individual do not stand in the relation of a whole to a part. Instead, the state is the All, from which the power flows through the limbs of the individual. Everyone has his determined place, and, to the extent that he fulfills it, belongs to the All of the State. The individual of antiquity does not lose himself in society in order to find himself, but rather in order to construct it; he himself disappears. The well-known difference between the ancient and all modern concepts of democracy rightly arise from this. It is clear from this why antiquity never developed the concept of representative democracy. Only a body can have organs; a building has only parts.

As we have seen, the family is a miniature clan, the clan is a miniature tribe, and the tribe is a miniature nation. All the layers of society stand in relation to each other like nested Russian dolls, identical except for their size.

Ancient Israel, and later Christianity, constituted an alternative to pagan social order. The covenant between Abraham and the biblical God applies not only to the Hebrew nation but to every individual member of that nation. Through his covenant, God establishes the rights of every individual — emphatically including the weakest members of society — beyond the claims of tribe and clan, and provides laws, judgments, and ordinances which stand above the whim of any human magistrate or chieftain. No longer can the Roman paterfamilias command the death of his own children in the little empire of his home; the covenant protects every member of society directly. And no longer can a husband be justified in beating his wife because he acts with the legal authority of a head of state in miniature, as in Sura 4:34.

It is common to speak loosely of “three Abrahamic religions” and assume an underlying commonality among Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. But the defining experience of Judaism and Christianity is alien to Islam. That is the love of a personal God. The founding premise of Judaism is that God’s love for Abraham, “God’s lover,” extends by covenant to each and everyone of his descendants, as well as those who are adopted into Israel by conversion. Christianity proposes to extend this grace to all who believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each morning, the observant Jew enacts a wedding ceremony with God, forming a wedding band with the leather strap of his phylacteries and reciting the words of Hosea: “And I shall espouse you to Me eternally; I shall espouse you in mercy and lovingkindness, in righteousness and justice, and you shall know The Lord.” The personal God of Judaism who loves the faithful soul with the ardor of the Divine Lover in the Song of Songs is unimaginable in Islam, for Allah does not condescend to enter into a relationship of love with mere mortals. Allah cannot bind himself to covenants that he himself cannot alter out of love for his Chosen people, as the biblical God did with Abraham and his descendants; much less can Allah become incarnate as a human being, as Christians believe God did, to offer salvation to all humankind.

Jews and Christians worship a God who cannot be like them, for their God is perfect and incapable of doing evil. For Christians, the incarnate God Jesus Christ is without sin. God is thus wholly Other, for we are imperfect: frail, mortal, and prone to sin. God does nothing without a reason, and his reasons always are good, even if they surpass our understanding.

Allah, by contrast, is beyond good and evil. His cosmic caprice determines everything, and if he so wishes he can make us commit acts of evil, even the ultimate evil of idolatry. Covenant is a concept alien to Islam. For by definition a God of covenants places a limit on his own power and enters into a partnership with a human society. Unlike YHWH of the Hebrews, the all-transcendent Allah does not stoop to make agreements with mere human beings.

Allah usually is described as “absolutely transcendent” but in comparison to the God of the Bible, he is rather more like us. That is what Rosenzweig meant when he called Islam a pagan parody of Judaism and Christianity, and Allah the “colorful panoply of the pagan Olympus rolled up into one,” that is, “a monistic paganism.” Rosenzweig’s use of the term “paganism” is not a reproach but a diagnosis. There is a pagan purpose to the reconfiguration of Christian and Jewish concepts in the Koran: the election of the Arabs in place of the Jews, as Professor Kalisch explains.

[1] David P. Goldman, It’s Not The End of the World, It’s Just The End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations, p. 261.
[2] David P. Goldman, How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), pp. 141-143

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9 Responses to “Islam Is A Monistic Paganism”

  • Mike Bull Says:

    I’m not going to make any smart comments about paedobaptism and “animal ties.” There. I didn’t.

  • MarkO Says:

    Not sure it’s meaningful to me to connect the above to modes of baptism. Rather what strikes me is the lunacy of evangelical leaders saying that Allah and Yahweh are the same God. The differences Goldman elucidates are stark and memorable.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Yeah – I was just having a jab.

    You’re right about evangelical leaders. And Goldman has plenty more to say concerning Islam. I hope these two books get some traction out there.

  • Simon Kennedy Says:

    Men who beat their wives (as in Sura 4:34) think they are God, and their god is a tyrant. Of course, Christian men should not beat their wives, because their God is the servant King. So, both Christian and Muslim men should act like their God – one as a servant, one as a tyrant. I would say its easier for the Muslims, perhaps because their God is so like us, as he points out. Christ and the church, though; now that’s a tough gig.


    Dont try to translate Quran based on your own concept, better try to find out exact translation of Quran. The following is a actual translation of the verse:
    ‘Men shall take full care of women, with the bounties which God has bestowed on them more abundantly than upon the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. The righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has ordained to be guarded. As for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear (on whose part you fear nushuz – disloyalty, rebellion, ill-conduct), talk to them persuasively, then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) then (adribu) them (ie. either separate from them, or resume sleeping with them when they are willing and seek peace); and if they return to obedience, do not seek an excuse for blaming them: For God is Most High, Great (above you all).

    So the true Islamic sense of the word is to protect and support – Muslim men are not expected to dominate, abuse or exploit, but to take care of their women, and this duty and responsibility of a husband is something that Muslim women are urged to accept.
    Be open mind and stop abusing Islam.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Muhammad

    Thanks for your comment. Perhaps your translation of ‘adribu’ is correct. I hope so. But if this is the case, why is there such widespread abuse of women in Islamic society? I know there are Muslim women bravely taking a stand against such abuse. Are there Muslim men who are doing likewise? And if so, are they using the Koran for support? If you yourself were to take such a stand, how would you do it? It seems to me that very few Muslims follow what you just shared. And if Goldman is correct in his observation concerning state authority and household authority, violence in the household is a logical outcome.

    The Muslims who take your more caring view on this issue live in countries with Judeo-Christian assumptions (from your email address, it looks like you are in Canada). Is it possible that Muslims in western countries have softer hearts towards women?

    I’m not abusing Islam at all. I’m trying to get to the heart of it. From where I stand, it seems to me you should be talking to other Muslims about being open-minded to what you say the Koran says on this important issue. For Christians, taking care of others includes self-sacrifice for them, and this begins in the home. A man’s authority is given to him by the God who became Man and died on the cross for all sinners. This is what is at the heart of Christianity — the true nature of authority.

    As men, are we shepherds or are we wolves in sheep’s clothing? The words of Christ.

    Thanks again for the response.

    Kind regards,

  • Maria Bethany Says:

    Good book, but I find it somewhat pessimistic

    If you are interested in Theo-politics you’ll find this a fascinating book; I could not stop reading it. It is an important book, because it deals with the most vital problems of our time, and it inspires the reader to ask many questions.

    My first question is, do “civilizations” really die, or just amalgamate? Should we equate civilization with the political organization of a nation? In that case, the Greek-Roman civilization is dead. But we know that is far from the truth. The basic Greek idea of civilization is that politics, religion, and culture must be dictated by the “intellectual” segment of society, and the rest of the population must submit. The Stoic Rome adopted this maxim, and carried it to the “barbarians.” After the Enlightenment triumphed, ostensibly, we now live in the Age of Reason, and the Greek-Roman concept of civilization has become more virulent and prevalent than ever. The truth is that population control and population decline is the symptom of the prevalence of the Greco-Roman worldview.

    The second question is, then, when we bemoan the death of Western civilization, what are we bemoaning? I think, in reality, we are lamenting the disappearance of Hebrew-Christian values from the amalgam of Western social politics and culture. The declining birthrate is evidence of directly disobeying God’s dominion statute. The Lord said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and have dominion.” This breach could lead to Islamic domination, because Islam officially forbids birth control. It seems unavoidable that in a short time Muslims will outbreed Christians. However, David Goldman presents striking proof that birthrates in Muslim nations are declining even faster than in Europe or America.

    This is the third question. Why is this bad news for the West? Goldman’s answer is—it seems—that at the point of extinction, Islam has become more and more desperate and more and more aggressive. This reaction appears to be opposite to the apathetic behavior of the Western nations. And we certainly do not observe the resurrection of the fierce Samurai culture in Japan, although the generation of the young almost completely disappeared there.

    I do not deny that a nation is suicidal when it no longer has the natural instinct to reproduce. Goldman quotes Spengler’s Universal Law #2: “When the nations of the world see their demise not as a distant prospect over the horizon, but as a foreseeable outcome, they perish of despair.” He compares a dying nation to a terminally ill patient, who no longer makes rational decisions. True enough. Terminally ill patients often commit suicide.

    But here comes my fourth question. Why is Western civilization terminally ill? We cannot simply beg the question, saying we are suicidal because we are terminally ill, or that we are terminally ill because we are suicidal. Obviously, there is a root cause of our predicament, and this cause is faithlessness. Why did we abandon faith in God?
    In Chapters 11, “How Christianity Died in Europe,” and 12, “Why Some Religion Fails in the Modern World,” Goldman searches for the reason.

    “How did Christianity ultimately fail in Europe? The short answer is that the neo-paganism of national idolatry hatched like a cuckoo’s egg in the nest of Christendom.”

    David Goldman hits the nail on the head—almost. He is close, but I think at this point he falls short of giving us a fully satisfactory answer. Paganism is not a cuckoo’s egg; it was always a part of the Western culture that we call “Christendom.” In the first place, Christianity was the intruder. Seemingly, Christianity conquered; but under the surface, the struggle between the Biblical and the Hellenistic worldviews never ceased. What happened is that Christianity became exhausted in this long struggle, and the energy of Paganism is now revived. At this time, the enemies of God’s Law are poised to eliminate their opponents for good.

    Seeing this, I believe that the West is not really suicidal, but we are being murdered by a slow poison. The Judeo-Christian civilization is marked for extinction by the assiduous and clever design of our Pagan Enemy. We are made to believe that we are dying by our own volition, because we deserve to die. We have lost the battle for survival. We have no hope. This explains our apathy.

    In contrast, Islam is energized by this same, neo-Pagan insurrection. The deaths of the suicide bombers are not suicide but sacrifice for a greater future. Far from having guilt pangs like the Christians, the Muslims are bursting with self-righteousness and resentment against the “unbelieving world,” which has treated them unjustly throughout history. Why are they energized? Because, as this book correctly explains, Islam is—in spite of its monotheistic claims—“monistic paganism.” Islam has no true Biblical roots. As such, the rulers of Islam are natural allies of the current leadership of Europe, the atheistic intellectuals. Linked together through the humanist studies of the Academia, Muslims have received an infusion of self-confidence that helps them envision an Islamic Empire without end. If “Islam is dying too,” its demise is scheduled after ours!

    I’m not disagreeing with this work, but I find it somewhat pessimistic. I wish it could be complemented in a manner to promote our survival. It is not too late to defend ourselves. I have published two books on Amazon, titled “Mother Nature Delusion” and “Hellenism and Hebraism.” They are the result of many years of study closely related to this subject. If anyone is interested, I’m ready to discuss the issue of our present decline, and my strong faith in the future glory of our civilization.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks Maria. Great to hear from you.
    I like your observation that while the West is ridden with guilt, Islam is bursting with self-righteousness.

  • Maria Bethany Says:

    Mike, I have more to say about this subject, if you allow me to post it. I think it is not enough to say that we are ridden with guilt. We need to examine why, and how can we re-assume the self-confidence of our Founding Fathers.