Islam as a Christian Heresy

07 Jul

Hilaire Belloc, in his work on heresy, defines the word not as some ground-shaking problem, but what its Greek roots mean: a taking away of something from a presumably complete whole. Belloc mentions a number of heresies of orthodox Catholic faith, of which some are dead, and some like Islam and modernism, remain. Belloc mentions that the first Byzantine rulers who observed Muslims considered their worship to be a form of greatly-simplified Christianity.

Now, I have often written here words admiring of some features of Islamic societies, and Islamic thinkers. As I wrote here:

The most religious country on Earth is India; the least, Sweden. The USA is a country of Indians, ruled by Swedes.” I bought into Islamophobia, until Peter Kreeft’s article on culture war gave me this perspective: “Who is our enemy?…Not Protestants. (left that in for Will S.!) …Not Muslims, who are often more loyal to their half-Christ than we are to our whole Christ, who often live more godly lives following their fallible scriptures and their fallible prophet than we do following our infallible scriptures and our infallible prophet.”

So it doesn’t bother me that President Obama hosted a dinner for Ramadan. At least the Muslims will defend aspects of their faith with vociferous denunciations of people who assail it, and the Muslim concept of Allah is at a minimum superior to “Progressive” faith based on the “general will” of Hegel. Someone who fears unending punishment for violating God’s law is less likely to harm me than someone who knows that a failed political system cannot hold him accountable for crimes and misdemeanors.

More fascinating is to pursue the thread of Islam as Christian heresy, a gross oversimplification of dogma, perhaps necessary for uncivilized desert tribesmen. Emmet Scott takes up the cudgel of historical examination. I highly recommend you go read the whole thing. Some choice excerpts:

In his recently published Did Muhammad Exist? Robert Spencer, quoting some of the most eminent contemporary Middle Eastern scholars and archaeologists, presented a wide variety of evidence suggesting that no Arabian prophet named Muhammad ever existed.

That, right there, is a killer first line. Perhaps literally so, for Scott.

Since muhammad means “honored one” or “chosen one” in the Syriac and Arabic languages, it is highly likely that the “Muhammad” shown on these coins was none other than Jesus. This is made all the more likely by other evidence, presented by linguists such as Christoph Luxenberg and Günter Lüling, suggesting that the Qur’an began its existence as a Christian devotional text and that it was originally written in the Syriac rather than the Arabic language. The mistranslation of the book into Arabic resulted, said Luxenberg, in almost one third of the Qur’an making no sense whatsoever and the appearance of such strange teachings as the promise of 72 virgins to Muslims who enter heaven, instead of 72 grapes, as it would read in Syriac.

I had read about the grapes elsewhere.

The evidence of coins, combined with the linguistic clues in the Qur’an, completely undermine the whole of early Islamic historiography, and suggest very strongly that the life of Muhammad, as presented in Islamic tradition, is a complete fiction.

It is no secret of course that the Qur’an is profoundly biblical, and this has only emphasized its Christian origins. Günter Lüling has postulated that it was originally a lectionary of the Ebionites or Nazarites, a Judaizing sect which was declared heretical at the Council of Nicea in 325 and thereafter disappeared from history. Most of its adherents are believed to have migrated into Arabia, and there is no question that Ebionitism was the main, or perhaps the only, Christian group with a wide following in Arabia during the fourth to sixth centuries. Indeed its influence in the Arabian Peninsula during these centuries was profound. The Ebionites accepted Jesus as the Messiah but rejected the notion that he was the son of God. They regarded Jesus as a faithful Jew and follower of the Mosaic Law, and they themselves practised circumcision, as well as the various other rules and regulations stipulated in that Law.

Scott goes on to discuss a theory mentioned in his Mohammed and Charlemagne, Revisited, that the Arabian conquests were in fact done by the Persians.

(T)he invention of an Arabian prophet as the spiritual fountain-head of this empire, was motivated by a desire to justify what was essentially the Arab takeover of an imperial machine that was not theirs.

The two greatest powers in the Middle East at the beginning of the seventh century were Byzantium and Sassanian Persia. In 602 the Persian king Chosroes (Khosrau) II went to war against the Byzantine usurper Phocas, who had earlier murdered Chosroes’ friend and father-in-law the Emperor Maurice. The war did not end with the death of Phocas (610), but continued into the reign of Heraclius, and was to prove ruinous to the Byzantines. Jerusalem was taken by the Persians in 614, a disaster which was quickly followed by the loss of most of Asia Minor between 616 and 618 and Egypt in 619/20. Chosroes II now equalled the achievements of his Persian predecessors in the sixth century BC, with his forces marching across North Africa to annex the Libyan province of Cyrenaea in 621. The story told by the Byzantines of how Heraclius, in the face of this overwhelming calamity, rallied his armies and reconquered all the lost territories – only to lose the same territories again to the Arabs from 632 onwards – has a ring of fantasy about it, and historians have long viewed it with scepticism. Certainly there is no doubting the power and influence of the Persians in this epoch.

The earliest Islam, as revealed by archaeology, is in fact profoundly Persian; and indeed the first trace of Islam recovered in excavation are coins of Sassanian Persian design bearing the image either of Chosroes II (d. 628) or of his grandson Yazdegerd III (d. 651). On one side we find the portrait of the king, on the reverse the picture of a Zoroastrian Fire Temple. The only thing that marks these out as Islamic is the legend besm Allah (in the name of God), written in the Syriac script, beside the Fire Temple.

Scott is no fan of Islam, but does string together some interesting history. Go, take a read, and view his entire archive, which includes parts of the book Mohammed and Charlemagne, Revisited.


Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


22 responses to “Islam as a Christian Heresy

  1. Pingback: Zippy Catholic
  2. Will S.

    July 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm


    I am a bit skeptical of this revisionist view that Mohammed never existed; that there wasn’t some charismatic individual back in the seventh century A.D. able to promote his vision of a new faith, embodying bits of Judaism and Nestorian Christianity, along with elements of pagan Arabian religion, upon the Arabian people, inspiring them to conquer north Africa, Persia, and elsewhere nearby there…

    Nevertheless, is Islam merely a Christian heresy?

    I suppose the Jews thought Christianity a Jewish heresy.

    Yet in time, Christians came to recognize they weren’t merely ‘fulfilled Judaism’, but followers of a new Way – certainly, one claiming to follow the same God the Jews worshipped, but with fundamentally different understandings and teachings altogether.

    Muslims do not consider their faith to be a subset of Christianity, but to be The Way that Allah has ordained that humanity should follow.

    And that brings up the question of what is encompassed by the term ‘heresy’. As I understand it, ‘heresy’ denotes a religion that claims to be the same one as those followed by those who define themselves as ‘orthodox’, but simply doctrinally different on key points.[EA: heresy derives from the Greek word meaning ‘to take away.’ So, if you start with Christianity and take away the divinity of Christ, you have a heresy. If the dogma is whole cloth that cannot have one part removed without unraveling, then the heresy necessarily cannot survive with the Orthodox.]

    Thus, the Arians, monophysites, Nestorians, were heretics, because they all did consider themselves Christians, but the Church considered them to not be correct, yet didn’t consider them complete apostates, i.e. those who have left the faith completely. [EA: yep. Belloc talks about Arianism. most of the Arians lived in North Africa, regions that swiftly went over to Islam, after Justinian re conquered them for Byzantium not 100 years before. Really, read Scott. he explains a lot more about the logistics and WHYs of Islamic conquest.]

    The Roman Catholic Church defines Protestants like myself as heretics, rather than apostates, and considers us ‘separated brethren’, rather than followers of a completely different religion altogether. That makes sense to me, because we are Trinitarian followers of Christ, after all – just like Catholics… [Except, without apostolic succession unless Lutheran or Anglican.]

    Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox alike consider Mormons to be heretics, not apostates, probably because LDS do still consider themselves to be Christians, and not followers of another religion entirely.

    In light of the foregoing, I submit that Muslims, not considering themselves to be Christians but instead followers of the religion of submission to Allah (not considering Christ divine, but merely an exemplary human who was close to God), must be considered indeed as followers of a separate religion, apostates rather than merely heretics. [EA: heresy begets heresy, rather like evolutionary drift. I think Islam in the 7th century would be much more recognizably Christian than today. But that judgment is based on the views of people at the time. The idea that Mohammed might not be real is a fascinating one.]

    “Someone who fears unending punishment for violating God’s law is less likely to harm me than someone who knows that a failed political system cannot hold him accountable for crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Maybe, but then how is Boko Haram treating Christians, esp. women? How are the Sudanese treating Christians?[EA: harm ME, Will. Those other people? Well, I no longer watch the news. I had to look up Boko Haram.]

    And how about ISIS? They’re leveling Shia Islam temples, their own co-religionists; will they have any tolerance for Christianity? I think we know the answer.

    Like you, I have much sympathy for Muslims wanting to preserve their societies, to save them from the rot that has infected the West, and Sayyid Qutb’s criticisms of our society do resonate with me on some level, certainly.

    But I can’t think of them as co-religionists of merely a heretical strain of what we believe, rather than as followers of a completely different faith; outright apostates…
    [EA: clearly, they should be made to know the Good News. Part of getting the record straight is using tools WITHIN THEIR BELIEF SYSTEM to bring them to this point. I would not argue that Islam now is close (80% aligned) with Christianity. I think it probably once was, and if I want to save those soils, then I need to find a way to mOve it closer to its roots. Wahhabism, the radical crap of the desert tribes, moves away, but I think the Persians, posited as the originators of the “Islamic” empire in the story, come from a green and ancient land and are less inclined to be fanatic assholes. The Taliban versus the people of Rumi and Khayyam: the Persians would never allow the desecration of their history.]

  3. Will S.

    July 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    And furthermore, as much as I’d love to think they could be fellow patriactionaries, I’m of the opinion that instead, they remain our age-old civilizational enemies, as they always have been, since I see little attempt on their part to embrace us trad Christians as culture war allies.[the Muslims don’t take 40-50% of my family’s income to support the culture of death, Will. In any fair accounting of the last, say, 100 years, we’ve killed a lot more of them than they have of us. Of course, they don’t HAVE to kill us: our culture of death is doing that already. If they actively bomb us, we can fight them. But if they simply adhere to their faith and keep average birthrate a at 2.8 to 3 per woman, they will bury us. They seem to know this, while the Progressives who rule the West do not, or do not care. So long as they do NOT embrace the Progressive faith, God will continue to bless them. Should they join the Progressives in a culture war against us, they will suffer the barren-womb end curse of all Progressive societies, an empty cradle with no hope in the future, no reason to “feel” Christmas.]

  4. Agapoula

    July 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    There is much to read here, and I will read through it in 30 minutes (I have to go to store before it is too late. 🙂 .)

    Before reading it all, I will say that I find it difficult to believe Mohammed did not exist. There is record and account of this, and I was just recently reading what Aisha his 9 year old wife said, which I am not sure, but I THINK it is in the hadiths.

    The strange thing about Islam is that Muslims claim to be believe in the Bible, rejecting only certain parts which they claim are manipulated and changed by Christians.

    They say Christians, Muslims and Jews are “people of the book”, and that any Christian or Jew PRE-ISLAM, will go to heaven, and that Christians and Jews in this day will not, because they have had the chance to know of Islam, and they reject it.

    They view Jesus Christ as merely a prophet, and this is blasphemy. If they do not believe Christ is savior, they can not be Christians in any form. Even Christians who are heretic acknowledge our Savior died on cross, yes?

    Islam is a very dark faith, and anybody who take time to read the Qu’ran and the hadiths will either be brainwashed or understand the extent of darkness in their ideology.

    There are numerous verses in Qu’ran and hadiths which prove it is no religion of peace, and it is opposite of Christianity.

  5. Sean

    July 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I have readthe Koran. The whole religion of peace BS dies in Chapters 4 & 9.

    Interesting perspective, though. Gotta let my response totally form mentally first, though.

  6. Agapoula

    July 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I read through this post, and the second link saying why admire some features of Islamic society. .

    It was an interesting and well written post but I do think it is a poor representation of what real Sharia Law entails. For example, the wife was requesting a divorce, and the person who I am assuming was a Mullah or a Judge was willing to grant that if abuse, or addiction was present.
    Which I do not agree with. If my husband become alcoholic, I am still not justified to divorce him in my opinion. Divorce is a very very last resort. Even in cases of abuse it is better to leave from the husband for some time so he can get help. Not divorce. Divorce is terrible. And I believe it tells us much about Islam that they even have “Nikah mut‘ah”. (In Shiah Law, not Sunni.) Which is temporary marriage. It is insane!

    But back to the point of the post, I do not agree that Islam is a Christian heresy. Maybe very long time ago when it was just becoming established it was? But now it has become so different and so evil that it is not recognisable as any form of even hersey Christianity. Islam is blasphemy, and if one leaves Christ for Islam, they become a heretic, in my opinion.

    That is not to discredit SOME features of Islam society being better in comparison to current European and western society. But that is because they have maintained a patriarchy, modesty in women, traditionalism, etc, as much of modern other countries have rejected this. But those are just the few good things, there is much else that is wrong with their societies and with Sharia Law. Their treatment of children, (pedophilia), their treatment of women (abuse, female circumcision, slavery, nikah mutah.), their treatment of men, (dowries (poor men can not get wife?).

    In conclusion, Islam is very, very far from Christianity. If the writer of the original points has evidence from Mohammed never exist, I am very interested to read it, as I do not know much of history.

  7. Agapoula

    July 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    *Islam is blasphemy, and if one leaves Christ for Islam, they become apostate, in my opinion.

  8. Agapoula

    July 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    And, (another comment, sorry. ) 🙂 What is frightening about president of USA hosting Iftar dinner is that the man is supposed to be a Christian, leading a Christian nation.

    At what point does it stop, when Christians are hosting dinners for Islamic celebrations? It is tolerance in the extreme and when one is tolerant in the extreme to other Religions, they fall away from their own.

    If we decided to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh or any country with Sharia Law, and we decided we want to turn their country in to Christian state, and our women not to wear hijaabs, and we blasphemed against Islam in the streets, what do you think would happen to us? We would probably be stoned to die or strung up in the streets. But invite them to our countries, and we host them a nice dinner. 🙂

  9. Jonathan W

    July 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    A Reformed theologian espouses a similar view of Islam being heretical. While you might not agree with the rest of Leithart’s stuff:

    He’s written other stuff on viewing Islam as a heretical take on Christianity.

  10. Will S.

    July 7, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I’m Reformed and I have issues with Leithart. Not going into such an ‘inside’ discussion here, though.

  11. sfcton

    July 7, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    The really twisted parts of islam are in the hadith. Or however the hell you spell it. I have seen way to much of islam in action to care about stuff like this

    Egg heads arguing about islam is heresy or if mohmet existed or not is pretty damn pointless.

    What I have seen in Africa and the middle east is beyond belief.for the most of men. Some of the reports would be difficult to believe if I didn’t know better. Seeing moslems in the Western world makes my skin crawl.

    Heresy or no, It’s pretty damn clear mohmet ripped off the Bible to come up with islam and that he did a hatchet job of it with archeologist smashing mohmets time line regular

  12. Will S.

    July 7, 2014 at 11:24 pm


    Islam transposes the setting of Old Testament events from Israel / Palestine to Arabia, and has the covenant be made with Ishmael’s rather than Jacob’s line.

    Islam misunderstands the Trinity, thinking it is God the Father, Christ, and Mary.

    Islam misunderstands and misrepresents what Christians believe, in its writings, and puts words in Christ’s mouth that are inconsistent with what Scripture teaches.

    Islam is something other, utterly alien to us and our way of life.

  13. infowarrior1

    July 8, 2014 at 10:10 am

    @Will S.
    Given the significant role mary plays in catholicism at the time. Its not hard to make the error that they made with the trinity. Likewise they do not seem to have gotten hold of the correct translation of the bible.

    • Will S.

      July 8, 2014 at 10:15 am

      But infowarrior1, notwithstanding Roman Catholics’ and Eastern Orthodoxers’ prayers for intercession to Mary, they still pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; Islam’s sloppiness is just that – they see Mary as God’s wife, and Christ as their Son together (perhaps that arises from confusion on their part of the Catholic term ‘Mother of God’ or the Orthodox term theotokos, ‘Bearer of God’; they seem to think Mary is mother to Christ’s divine aspect alongside of God the Father), and they then somehow infer that as the Trinity. In any case, it’s sloppiness, as well as sacrilegious.

      And here’s the thing – the version of Christianity that was most prevalent in their part of the world, at the time of the founding of Islam, was Nestorianism, itself a heresy – so if Islam resembles a Christian heresy, it’s because it incorporated ideas from one…

  14. infowarrior1

    July 8, 2014 at 10:30 am

    It seems so coincidential that the mongol hordes wiped out nestorianism and Islam appeared to have turn the spiritual war perhaps borrowed from Christianity to a more physical one.

    A quick youtube search on the jihad nasheed islamic worship songs turns up many examples of this.

  15. Will S.

    July 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I doubt it’s coincidental. Surely that was part of God’s plan, as was the fact that Islam all but crushed Zoroastrianism, utterly (incidentally, it was in Persian, Zoroastrian-controlled regions that Nestorianism also thrived…).

    Saladin said “Islam is now awake to drive away the night phantom of unbelief”; perhaps he was more correct than he realized. 🙂

    Now, if only we could crush that wrong belief, too…

  16. Kilrud

    July 8, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Grapes, huh? I recall hearing a description of the virgins as doe-eyed with mile-wide rears, but I can’t recall if the source was the Q’uran or somewhere in a hadith. There’s also references to 300 boy servants of eternal youth as beautiful as “strewn pearls.”

  17. paladin

    March 6, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Mo. probably existed (or 2 Mo.s-one before Yathrib and one after). Nader-al-Harith had great description of Mo.


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