By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

In his marvelous book, The Science of God, physicist Gerald Schroeder writes: "The god an atheist does not believe in is usually not the God of the Bible. Unfortunately, the god of the 'believer' is also often not the God of the Bible."

Islam's deity, Allah, is absolutely transcendent. He is pure will without personality. One consequence of Allah's absolute transcendence is the impossibility of human free will or choice. Islam postulates absolute predestination of all that we think, say and do. Sinners are as predestined as virtuous believers.

Islamic fatalism contradicts the free will implied in the Genesis account of man's creation in the image of God. The Jewish God endows all men with freedom. Abraham can argue and plead with God, as did Moses, because the God of the Jews is a personal God, immanent as well as transcendent. This attestation of human dignity in Judaism is absent in Islam. Hence it is the profoundest error to identify Allah with the God of the Bible, i.e., YHVH. The Zohar states that, "this Name YHVH belongs only to Israel."

Although the Quran refers to Allah as the "compassionate" and the "merciful," his most conspicuous function in that highly polemical work is to consign unbelievers to hell. Of course, there are in the Quran many verses of peace and tolerance, and also many verses mandating violence against non-believers. Addressing these contradictions, some of the most respected theologians in Islamic history say that when one sees peace in one place of the Quran and violence in another, one must follow what was revealed last. Unfortunately, the violent verses were revealed later and therefore nullify the peaceful verses. Apologists quote the peaceful verses as if the violent ones were non-existent. They obscure the fact that Islam is a religion of war in theory as well as in practice. But now let us demonstrate that the God of Islam should not be identified with the God of Israel.

According to Muhammad's own admission, Islam stands or falls with the person of its prophet. Hence it is appropriate to examine Muhammad's character.

That Islam is a militant religion follows from the character of Muhammad as a man of war. In her monumental work, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2002), Bat Ye'or avoids discussing the relationship between Muhammad's character and Islamic theology. Instead, she documents Islam's fourteen-century record of plunder, rape, and genocide. Hence let us turn to Serge Trifkovic, a Christian scholar.

In His The Sword of the Prophet (2002), Trifkovic departs from the moral neutrality of academia and provides a "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam." He portrays Muhammad as a simple preacher who became a fanatical warlord in the process of conquering Mecca and Medina. Citing the Quran and the voluminous Hadiths--the Traditions or Reports of what Muhammad said and did -- he exposes Islam's prophet as cruel, ignorant, and lascivious. Thus, after slaughtering Arab tribesmen and looting their camels, the prophet and his followers kidnapped their women and staged an orgy of rape. One Hadith explains:

We desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, but at the same time we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl [coitus interruptus]. But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger... and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.

To the men of one Jewish tribe, Muhammad offered the choice of conversion to Islam or death. Upon their refusal, up to 900 were decapitated in front of their women and children. "Truly the judgment of Allah was pronounced on high," was Muhammad's comment. The women were subsequently raped. Trifkovic comments: "That Muhammad's actions and words, as immortalized in the Quran and recorded in the Traditions, are frankly shocking by the standards of our time--and punishable by its laws, that range from war crimes and murder to rape and child molestation--almost goes without saying."

Trifkovik is aware of the cultural and historical relativism that would prompt Western intellectuals to say, "we must not extend the judgmental yardstick of our own culture to the members of other cultures who have lived in other eras." He counters this relativism by pointing out that "even in the context of seventh century Arabia, Muhammad had to resort to divine revelations as a means of suppressing the prevalent moral code of his own milieu." Muhammad is thus revealed as a deeply flawed man by the standards of his own society, as well as those of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and even by the law of which he claimed to be the divinely appointed medium and custodian.

Let us not be deceived by Muslim apologists. The eminent orientalist Sir William Muir (1819-1905) writes: "the sword of Muhammad and the Quran are the most fatal enemies of civilization, liberty, and truth which the world has yet known." No less than the incomparable nineteenth-century philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville went even further:

I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.

Finally, a word from the renowned historian and philologist Ernest Renan (1823-1892): "To liberate the Muslim from his religion is the best service that one can render him."

*From my forthcoming book, A Jewish Philosophy of History