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. 
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.
 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.
 David P. Goldman, How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), pp. 141-143