Of Santorum, Islam, and the "God of Abraham"

Recently, presidential candidate Rick Santorum was at an event during which he said this: "Where do you think this concept of equality comes from? It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions…It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that’s where it comes from." I had to chuckle, really, because it is beyond me that Rick Santorum, himself a worshipper of the "God of Abraham," doesn't know that the God of Islam is the very same God.

This God is the God of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Aaron, and of Jesus Christ himself. It is the God to whom Jesus refers in this passage in the New Testament:

And it came to pass, that, as he [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he [Jesus] said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. (Luke 11:1-4)

The One whom Jesus called "Our Father" is the God Whom I worship. When a "certain ruler" came to Jesus and asked him, "Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18), Jesus replied: "Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God" (Luke 18:19). The "only thing that is good" according to Jesus is the God Whom I worship. When, according to the Gospel account in Mark, Jesus was on the cross, he cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). The "El" upon Whom Jesus called is the God that I worship.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims call this God by the Arabic name "Allah." This has prompted some to claim that this "Allah" is the pagan moon god, or "monkey god," to which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wanted his followers to pray. This is absurd, because the word "Allah" comes from the same root word that forms the basis for the words used for God in the Bible: "Elohim," "ha Elohim," and "ha Eloh." Pick up an Arabic translation of the Bible, and you will find that the word for God is none other than "Allah." (For a detailed explanation of the origins of the word "Allah" and "Elohim," please see this excellent article.)

Nevertheless, Muslims worship the very same God of Abraham to which Rick Santorum referred. This verse of the Qur'an sums it all:

Say: "We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been vouchsafed to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of them. And it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves." (2:136)

The God that I worship as a Muslim is the God of us all. His name has changed from epoch to epoch and people to people, but He is the self-same God of the universe, our Loving Creator Who gave us life and sustains it for us. Muslims (and some Christians) may call Him "Allah," many Christians may call Him "Father"; to me, there is no difference.

What is most important is this: for people of faith, our common belief in a common Lord should serve to help us work together. Even for those who don't believe in God, the fact that I do doesn't alienate me from them. Because of my belief in God, I want to live and work with everyone: to make my Chicago and my America a much better place for all.

 

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  • I sure wish I could believe your wonderful sentiments. If more Muslims believed as do you, we just might be able to work together. But yours is a distinctly minority position, unfortunately.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    "Minority position?" More of them than there are of you bro. Are you lumping 2 billion Muslims in with terrorists? What if every catholic is preseumed to be a potential bomber of abortion clinics?

  • In reply to Mark McDermott:

    Learn to read, please. I was CLEARLY saying that his more moderate idea presented here is the minority opinion WITHIN Islam.

  • Welcome, Dr. Hassaballa, to ChicagoNow. Our community will be enriched by your voice. I believe your message of peace and solidarity is representative of the vast majority of the world's 2+ billion Muslims. We can only pray that in the end it will be the message that prevails.

  • The God of Abraham is the "god" of all three of the monotheist religions, that much is true.

    But as we all know that the inspired word of God is transcribed by men, then interpreted by further men.

    Much of the interpretation I have seen in my travel through the Muslim world does not ascribe to individual sovereignty.

    I truly believe that until there is a reformation in Islam, the direction will be militant.

    Though many have wished Allah's blessings as I traveled, the same population wants institution of sharia law. This to me is a true paradox.

    One of my friends from Egypt, in fact, a Coptic Christian, who lived in peace in Egypt for many years has had to flee with his family after being beaten and threaten during this last year of the "Arab Spring". He is seeking political asylum in the US. Another friend in Egypt, as soon as it was discovered he was Jewish, was persona- non- grata. This after a hale and hearty welcome the day before from Egyptian officials eager to jump start the tourism trade again.

    I just don't know what to say or think about this beyond what my own eyes tell me.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Great, insightful commentary Richard. It's good that you can share your perception based on your personal experience. That's how we all form the basis for our own POV.

    As someone raised Lutheran, I can very easily change one single word in your above sentence and summarize an unsettling trend that I have witnessed; "I truly believe that until there is a reformation in Christianity, the direction will be militant."

    Followers of Jesus are asked to love thy neighbors as themselves and warned that what you do to the least of men, you do unto me (paraphrasing). Yet, every single day I witness a complete lack of empathy for the poor, contempt for non-Christians, and hatred toward gays. No one seems to remember "judge not lest ye be judged."

    This past week's Komen controversy brought Christian militancy into sharp focus. PP is being attacked by the religious right for performing a health service that is both legal and NOT subsidized by Federal dollars. Yet the anti-choice movement is hell-bent on shuttering PP and sacrificing the health of all the women that rely on PP for a full range of health services (97% of which are NOT abortions). The RR considers the health and well-being of the poor collateral damage in its war to save the "unborn".

    Show me, exactly, where in the bible Jesus commands anyone to go to war. Show me where Jesus makes an exception to helping the poor if the poor's only choice for healthcare is a not-for-profit that also provides abortion. Show me where any one of these anti-choice zealots are granted God's right to judge others when it comes to vigilante justice (as abortions are legal and PP neither invented them, legalized them, or has the power to make them illegal). Under what authority do Christians have the right to behave in this militant manner?

    It's unfair to point out a perceived hypocrisy with Islam when Christianity suffers from the very same problem. Extremists of any religion (save maybe those that worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster) are dangerous and an embarrassment to the true adherents to the peaceable tenets of their respective faiths.

    It really bothers me to see intolerance toward any religion because of the actions of a certain sect or subset. It has almost made me become intolerant of all religions. But I don't believe I have a right to be intolerant. I believe I have a duty as an American to show everyone tolerance.

    I don't have to agree with a religion's tenets and I don't have to respect its sacredness if that is something that I don't believe in myself. As an American, I also don't have to sit idly by while anyone's religion is trying to be interjected into laws that impact my civil liberties.

    I have to respect an individual's right to worship (or not worship) the god of their choice. I owe it to the individual to base my impression of him or her on his or her own actions. I don't fear any religion - I fear fanaticism. Until someone proves otherwise, I give them the benefit of the doubt and try not to generalize.

    Welcome Hesham and thanks for sharing YOUR voice! I can't offer any words of advice except "don't shop at Lowes!"

  • Brent....

    you are really straining. In case you missed it, Christianity did have a Reformation, and it was initiated by one Martin Luther. I'm sure you know that.

    You witness trespass against neighbors, and attribute these to Christians only? Do you stop and inquire as to the faith? I thought not. Do Christians sin? Yes. Do Jews? Yes. Muslims? Yes. Atheists ? Well, they don't "sin". You must know that the tenets of Christianity call to love God and love your enemy, but men are men and not all are strong.

    I'm afraid we will differ on the "show me's", too, as I do not subscribe to sola scriptura. Jesus Christ's role was not as a peacemaker but as a savior of souls. He was an angry man when he thought his Father's House was being violated; yet, he drew in the dust and demanded to know who amongst us has no sin, and His compassion saved a woman from stoning. . You are intolerant towards Christianity, it seems to me, as is your wont. If you do not believe, that is fine. Or if you have a resentment against your childhood faith, okay too. But let's not paint all the same way.

    However, you have to consider the empirical evidence in the world today, and answer, honestly, where does 99% of the terrorism acts come from today, and why? Have you eyes...

    Regarding law... there is man's law and there is God's law. Sometimes they intersect. Just because something is legal does not make it moral.

    I made a comment based on my impressions. I also expressed my opinion of Islam. I make no apologies. I know many Muslim people, and have been treated very warmly; however, I do not understand a collective voice that will vote for sharia law as the law of the land. Do you?

    In the end, not all religions are equal and not all are just. Some, such as Christianity, through the will of the god of Abraham, changed. Had it not, the Inquisition would be hunting you down right now.

    You claim to not to want to generalize, but, in fact, you do. It's okay if you do, too. But just get on with it and admit it. It's your right.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard, I don't want you to think I was attacking you personally. I was pointing out that it's really unfair for you to call for a reformation within Islam without also making a call for Christians to get their house in order.

    I pointed out that there are some among the Christian faith that feel it is acceptable to steal, bully, harass, injure, and sometimes even kill under the guise of doing God's work. I find this kind of behavior intolerable NOT the underlying belief structure of Christianity. I'm sorry you couldn't pick up on that distinction from what I wrote.

    I understand the significance of the Reformation and I have no resentment toward being raised Lutheran. While I disagree with some of the prejudices that some Lutherans still hold, I don't see many of them at the forefront of Evangelistic Extremism. Those Christians that are extremists - picketing soldier's funerals, mounting an all out attack on Planned Parenthood, and actively campaigning to deny civil rights to gay people are every bit as harmful to the perception of Christianity as the extremist Muslims you speak of.

    There is no distinction whatsoever. Trying to impose "god's law" in a secular nation is no different than trying to impose sharia law. In this country we have freedom of religion and freedom from religion. That is our principle of self-determination. If we expect other nations to respect our will as a people to be a democratic republic, we have to respect their will to be whatever type of nation they choose to be.

    I will take exception to your statement "In the end, not all religions are equal and not all are just." You should probably clarify this as my initial reaction is that you are elevating Christianity above all religions and that is totally subjective and a tad bit arrogant. If, on the other hand, you are referring to a religion's treatment of an individual within that religion that may be true, but only from the perspective of an American. No one among us is qualified to say what is equal or what is just when viewed outside secular law.

    I don't buy into that "where do all the terrorists come from" line of thinking either. Prior to 9/11, I seem to recall an American terrorist blowing up a Federal building, another detonating a bomb at the Olympics, and a whole lot of terrorists in Northern Ireland. Terrorism is an act - a sociopolitical, violent tactic available to any group regardless of their religious beliefs.

    And as for "just because it's legal, doesn't make it moral", I agree. I say the same thing about a man running for POTUS who hides behind the law by sending his money overseas to get a better ROI. But the way to change laws that are believed to be immoral is to redress the government, not try to defund a women's health clinic.

    I stand with my earlier statement - I will tolerate all religious faiths as my duty as an American. I will try to judge people I encounter on an individual basis - not group them all together based on a convenient demographic.

    This tolerance won't prevent me from calling out the hypocrites within the religion I was raised in nor stop me from using my voice and my vote to keep them from hijacking a secular government that is designed to be inclusive of all faiths (or no faiths). Despite a shared belief structure, these extremists do not represent me and I will not allow them to speak for me as a Christian or an American.

    As for people of other faiths, I will leave them to police themselves and to represent themselves as individuals.

  • Welcome to Chicago Now! Loved this post! Will tweet it later. ;-)

  • Brent, I don't think that I could have said it better. Amen, brother.

  • I truly enjoyed your post! Welcome to ChicagoNow! I look forward to reading more.

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