::: How I returned to Monotheism :::
POLOSIN ALI VIACHESLAV SERGHEYEVICH
So it became obvious that the New Testament can only be viewed as a moralistic and edifying reading, the Good Book, and not the prophetic manifestation of God's Word. But even the edifying value of this reading has raised many questions. In the absence of new prophetic Revelation, the higher clerical hierarchy became more of a self-proclaimed constantly operating collective prophet, - an oracle which enables the priests to interpret and even amend any given text. The text became a symbolic instrument for safeguarding the privileges of a selfish priestly class. When the corporate interests of the priesthood contradicted the ancient text, the priests would introduce new interpretations, which were often misconstruing the meaning of the original. Needless to say, these new interpretations were safeguarded with the threat of excommunication, torture or execution.
For instance, Jesus expressly forbids to address anyone as one's father: " And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven (St. Matt. XXIII: 9). The meaning is clear: it is a direct order, not a vague parable. And yet in the Roman - Byzantine Church traditional address for a priest is "Father", "Holy Father", "Reverend Father" or "Holiest Father", and some members of higher order of clergy should be called "my lord". Jesus admonishes his followers: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathens do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (St. Matt. 6:7-8). What we have here is another simple and clear command, but think of the hours and hours of the Christian Mass, think about all these mediators between God and the worshipers, who apparently think that their Heavenly Father knows not what things they have need of!
Where should one seek God's Truth, unaltered by men for their own, albeit good, purposes? Can the work of a group of 300 honored theologists be a substitute for the true Revelation, granted by the Almighty God to just one prophet?
Is it possible to draw a clear distinction between the realm of God and the realm of the Medieval Inquisition in the Gospels?
For them was entrusted
The protection of Allah's book,
And they were witnesses thereto:
If any do fail to judge
By (the light of) what Allah
Hath revealed, they are
No better than) Unbelievers"
This is the Word of God, and it reveals that the fragmental texts of the old Judaic - Christian school do contain the Holy Truth, announced by God through Jesus Christ (let peace be upon him!), and this Truth shall be sacred to us. But the Christian sources also contain human - added material. This fact was proved even by Christ's disciples. We, the Muslims, do believe in the prophetic nature of Jesus Christ, and those words of his that he pronounced as the prophet and the messenger of God are veritable to us. But to consider these words to be the Words of God we need to be certain that Christ's teachings and seers in modern Christian interpretation were actually his words and not a recent invention. Unfortunately, we cannot state it with certainty.
In his poetic cycle, "West-Ostricher Divan", Goethe expressed this lack of certainty
Vom Himmel steigend Jesus bracht'
Des Evangeliums ewige Schrift,
Den Juungern las er sie Tag und Nacht;
Ein gottlich Wort es wirkt und trifft.
Er stieg zuruuck, nahm's wieder mit;
Sie aber hatten's gut gefuhlt
Und jeder schrieb, so Schritt vor Schritt,
Wie ers in seinem Sinn behielt
Verschieden. Es hat nichts zu bedeuten:
Sie hatten nicht gleiche Fahigkeiten;
Doch damit koonnen sich die Christen
Bis zu dem juungsten Tage fristen.
From Heaven Jesus came down
Bringing the eternal Gospel.
And started teaching his disciples
The Sacred word of God.
And then ascended again.
While they - intending to glorify Deity
Started to write and to repeat
The words the way each one of them remembered -
Each one of them differently - as is usually the case.
For each one has different talents.
Yea, there is a problem the Christians are having
They need to suffer and stand it all
Till the Judgment Day
When I first opened the book of the Holy Quran, I saw the "Tell them…" formula and read the words announcing the Will of the Almighty, the words that had never been altered, and I realized that these were the Words of the Almighty God Himself. God is the sole author of the Quran, with Muhammad as his Messenger. The Almighty needs no human body, nor the bird's wings, nor the dubious omens or the crying effigies of His saints. Neither does He need His Words to be altered and edited by his creatures, or any forms of Incarnation, for He is Almighty; all things or beings we can think of are His creatures, He has the power to make His Will known to His people and choose the time, place and form, as well as the Messenger for His Revelation. As for those who reject the Word of Islam and come up with every possible accusation and speculation, the Lord Himself said about them:
Do they not consider
The Qur'an (with care)?
Had it been from other
Than Allah, they would surely
Have found therein
The Holy Book of the Quran, characterized by the solemn and unambiguous logic, marvelously going hand in hand with the exquisite poetical sublimity and the Truth that no mortal could render, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!), who was not educated in science or literature. The Word of God is unambiguous, and has never undergone any changes. It brings to our memory and explains the words of Jesus and other prophets before him (let peace be upon them!). It announces unto the world the social doctrine, which is based on the idea of the One and Only God, and expands this doctrine to all possible levels, from the family and everyday duties, to the governing of the state.
Having read the Book, I realized that the Quran is the true Christian Revelation, long ago foretold by Jesus.
As compared to the Quran, the Bible's translation from Hebrew and Greek into Slavonic and Russian contains a lot more discrepancies, inaccuracies and even outright distortions of the original meaning. For instance, the Russian edition of the New Testament uses one and the same Russian word, "obraz" (image) for five Greek terms, different in shades of meaning: "icon", "idolon", "typos", "morphy" and "skhima". The majority of the believers does not have a theological education and is not concerned with the shades of meaning. Only few people have the opportunity to devote their time and effort to reading the Greek text, and even less can read the original in Hebrew. Most readers are quite satisfied with the readily available content of translation, which may be misleading.
Faith in Jesus
The extension of worship of Christ (let peace be upon him!) as a righteous Rabbi, prophet and the spiritual savior ("Moshiah", or "Messiah" in Hebrew, "Masih" in Arabic and "Christ" in Greek) of the faithful sons of House of Israel, to the concept of Incarnation of God is based upon several dogmatic interpretations of the New Testament. These dogmas were safeguarded by the penalty of death and torture that would fall upon the head of anyone who would dare to doubt them.
Firstly, the fact that throughout the text of New Testament, Christ is called "the son of God", was interpreted as his being consubstantial to his Father, and therefore is God himself. However, in Hebrew "the sons of God" was a common nomination of the angels (see the Book of Job, 38:7, where the "sons of God" rejoiced when God created the world: that is before the creation of man). Angels are spiritual beings, and therefore one can not say that Jesus was actually born of God. Obviously, this is just an idiom of the ancient language, alongside with "the hand of God", which stands for "the power of God". Moreover, the Gospel according to St. Mark gives a direct definition of the word combination "the children of God": everyone who has "received God" is "born of God" and therefore is a "son of God".
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (S. John: I).
Everyone who obeys the will of God, and devotes himself to God becomes the "son of God" and a "relative" to Jesus:
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother (S. Matt XII:).
My mother and my brethren are those which hear the word of God, and do it (S. Luke, 8:20). This definition of the concept of "Children of God" belongs to Jesus Christ (peace be upon him!)
Moreover, the New Testament stipulates that the ultimate goal of Christ's mission is to turn all people into "the sons of God". The Epistle to Ephesians runs as follows: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. <...> Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Eph, I: 3-5).
It would be unthinkable to suppose that this verse stipulates that all people are identical to the One who created them! Consequently, even the altered version of the New Testament reveals the allegorical nature of the words "born of God", the spiritual figurative meaning of this allegory is being based on the obedience of the son to his father and the son's acceptance of his father's will. Hence, the Evangelical words about Jesus, "the son of God and the son of man" mean that he has accepted God as his spiritual Father, devoted himself to God. In other words, we see the angel by spirit in the body of man. Nevertheless, an angel is in no way comparable to God, for God created him, just as He created a man. The Muslims do not doubt that Jesus (let peace be upon him!) had a righteous soul of an angel. Alongside with Abraham and Moses, Jesus is one of the greatest prophets, who "devoted himself to God", which would be "Mus - lim" in Arabic, The example he set should be followed by every man of every nation of the world, and that is what Muhammad (peace be upon him!) taught, too.
It is interesting to note that the word combinations "the son of God" and "the son of man" in the Greek original were spelled with no capital letters. The word "son" was capitalized in Medieval times by the people who apparently disregarded the will of the apostles, and thought they had the right to alter what they themselves called a Revelation. When the letter is capitalized, the meaning of the word dramatically changes: consider the word "light". If capitalized, it would acquire the additional meaning of being attributed to God the semantic content of the word would change. Consequently, saying that Jesus (peace be upon him!) was the "son of God" can in no way support the view that he was comparable, or identical to God. Apparently, the medieval scholars understood it all too well and changed the spelling in an impertinent distortion of the original.
Starting from the fifth century the Christians, who proclaimed Jesus to be God, have been arguing that Christ was "born before the foundation of the world". The aforesaid extract from the Epistle to Ephesians can disprove these arguments: all people are chosen and predestinated for "adoption" exactly "before the foundation of the world".
Secondly, the Christians refer to Christ's words: "I and my Father are one" (St.John, I, 30). However, judging from the context, one would understand that these words only mean the unity of the final goal rather than the unity of nature or the unity of the will. Christ voluntarily and completely submits his will to the Will of God.
Jesus says in his prayer: "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us" (St. John, 17:30). Obviously, these words about the unity of all apostles and even all believers are not meant to tell us that they will all become one subject, one man! Jesus said: "...He that believeth in me, believeth not in me, but in Him that sent me" (St. John 12:44). Throughout the New Testament the idea that Jesus was sent by God to save people is constantly reiterated. So one question arises: how can He Who commanded and the messenger, Who is "doing His will" be one and the same being?
If God expressed His Will to Jesus, it would mean that their will is separate. Jesus said: "...Because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (St. John, 5:30), and in Gethsemany he addresses God: "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done" (St. Luke, 22:42). And the last words of Jesus, according to the Scripture, were: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? "(St. Matt, 27:46) and "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (St.Luke, 23:46), - do not lay any basis for speculations that Jesus and God are one and the same being. It is interesting to note that in Arabic the word "commend" would sound as "Islam". And could it be that someone would speculate that in God there are different levels of omnipotence on the basis of Christ's words: " …for my Father is greater than I am" (John, 14:28)?
Apostle Paul has clearly outlined Christ's subordination to the One and Only Creator: "…The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor, 11:3). When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God be all in all (1 Cor, 15:28). The medieval priests, unable to find a sound basis for their doctrine in the original texts, some 400 years after the time of the Gospels and Epistles came up with a new doctrine of the "one nature of God in three hypostasis". The Greek word "hypostasis"can be translated as a "being" or "identity". But, most importantly, all this terms are abstract, and therefore the distinction between "nature", "being", or "identity" can only be drawn mentally, in order to facilitate cognitive processes. In reality no subject can exist separately from it's "being", "nature" or "identity".
The principle of manipulating with such abstract notions was characteristic of Greek sophists. We could compare this problem with their famous paradox, where the question "Is it possible to drink all water of the sea" is answered: " It is possible after separating the sea water from the water of the rivers that feed into it". Likewise, the notion of "essence of God", being artificially separated from the notion of "personality of God" loses its power.
To learn the machinery of this typical Greek sophism, it is necessary to consider the simple notion of the "subject" (an independently acting being). Faith in One and Only God signifies having faith in one subject of the action, and the Jews and the Muslims support the same view. It is quite logical that the Father, the son and the holy spirit of the New Testament, written by monotheistic Jews, are three separate subjects acting together, with Jesus and the spirit constantly obeying the Will of God! That is why the heathen priestly class, that had for centuries played the unlikely role of the emissaries of the heathen gods, had to look for the standard formula, in order for the priests to keep their godlike status in the superstitious mass-mind. To this end, during the course of the fourth and the fifth centuries, the priests had tailored the Christian monotheism to meet their needs: now the separate subjects of action were united in one many-sided subject; God was given several faces, three in the case of Trinity.
God's many-sidedness was a common practice in all the early religions. In this case the priests needed to identify "the son of God" and the spirit with God Himself, that is to introduce "the associates of God". Once it was done, the priests were enabled to proclaim themselves the successors of the "son of God" and the bearers of his spirit; that is to say, to become a collective incarnation of God, a collective body that rules this world on behalf of the Deity. According to Christian terminology, the priests proclaimed themselves the Church, the God-humanity. And that is how the Trinity doctrine came to life; the Church was now viewed as the "body of Christ, our Lord", and the sacrament of communion with the "body of Christ" became an essential and mandatory ritual of the orthodox Christian Church.
The worshippers believe that the ritual of Communion expiates their sins; that they actually become connected with God, that they become a part of the Deity. Such a complex pyramidal structure, apart from playing a mystical role, fulfills another, and quite earthly goal. Taking part in the sacrament of communion, the person is either willingly, or unwillingly, made to consent to his lowest position in the cosmological hierarchy, with the highest members of the clergy, the "godly governors" and the "holy priests", automatically being placed beyond any control and any responsibility for their actions.
In order to find yet another way to secure the idea of the exceptional and irreplaceable role of the priestly class, the Church authorities established an obligatory dogma of the "original sin": "the sin of Adam" which is inherent in the nature every living person, irrespective of his or her personal qualities. The only way to expiate the "original sin" is to undergo the ritual of joining the hierarchical pyramid, that is the ritual of communion, carried out exclusively by the members of this hierarchy!
All these philosophical and sophistical arguments constitute a striking contrast to the clarity and simplicity of apostle's words "For there is one God and one mediator between God and the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim, II: 5). The mediator here is the messenger of God, the man who "does the Will" of God.
While the theory proclaiming Christ as a FACE of God can, in principle, be explained, - the doctrine of the Divine nature of the holy spirit can hardly find any explanation. According to the Church's own view, the holy spirit is incorporeal and acts as the energy, or the power of God, rather than being an independently recognizable entity. This problem is immaterial for those who believe in the One and Only God. They do not ascribe Him with any associates or deify the holy spirit, as they recognize the independently acting holy spirit is an angel of God, and the energetically acting spirit as the action of God in the process of realization of His will.
The doctrine of separate existence of God's essence and His independent realizations (hypostasis) became an indisputable dogma in the IV century. Alongside with other ecclesiastical doctrines, it was safeguarded by the fear of excommunication, torture, and the fires of Inquisition, rather than by the belief in the Revelation of the Word of God. The Trinity dogma comes into conflict with another Christian doctrine of the unknowable nature of God, as it presupposes the knowledge of the correlation of the hypostasis to its nature. Any attempt to rationally conceive of the nature of God and ascribe the dialectic unity to its realizations seems to deviate from the belief in the One and Only God, from the faith of Abraham and from the teachings of Christ as they appear even in the Church-edited New Testament. Jesus infallibly reiterates that he is the messenger of God, and acts in accordance with what God deigned to reveal onto him: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (S.John, V: 19).
Thirdly, the Christian scholars argue, that the 1st Epistle of Paul to Timothy expressly states the idea of incarnation of God, which took the form of Christ's (let peace be upon him!) miraculous birth. However, even the "Commentated Bible" by Lopukhin, published with permission of the Orthodox Church, mentions that an important alteration was made to the 16th verse of the third chapter of this Epistle. The original verse ran: " And great beyond all question is the mystery of our religion, which was manifested in the body." Some 300 years after this verse was written, John Christosom, the Christian patriarch, added just two letters, "Te" to the Greek word "os" ("which") of the original, which resulted in "Teos" (God) and changed the verse to: "And great beyond all question is the mystery of our religion: "He who has was manifested in the body."" It is this text, written 300 years after apostle's death, that is quoted by the Christians as their proof of the Incarnation; - the idea, alien to God of Abraham.
It should be noted that this alteration is immediately conflicting with the rest of the New Testament. Unlike the Christian scholars of the Middle Ages, apostle Paul does not state that Lord Jesus Christ (let peace be upon him!) and God "are one": " …There is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many). But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor, VII: 4-6).
Unsupported by the original texts, the dogmas of the medieval official Christian Church caused many Christians to have more doubts of it. For instance, as early as in the 5th century, millions of believers refused to accept the doctrines of the Chalcedony's Assembly and broke away from the Roman-Byzantine official Church, which immediately started persecuting them with the emperor's help. Centuries that followed saw the emergence of numerous theological sects, heresies and Churches, which were eradicated by the state. The 16th century saw the nascence of the Protestant Churches, and now they are dominant in the leading Western countries. All the doctrines of Christ as a god-man are based on the aforementioned texts.
Leo Tolstoy in his letter to the father of the two cadets, who voluntarily converted to Islam, was drawing a comparison between the Byzantine - Christian and the Islamic tradition. (It should be noted, however, that his knowledge of the Muslim tradition was restricted by the absence of the Russian translations of the Islamic books.)
He wrote: "As for the preference of Mohammedanism to Christianity, and especially taking into account the noble motives that your sons provide, I can only wholeheartedly sympathize with their decision. Strange as it sounds, whereas I worship the Christian ideals and the Christian doctrine in its original form, - nonetheless I don't have the slightest doubt that, as far as the external forms are concerned, the Mohammedanism is certainly more developed than the clerical Orthodoxy.
So, if a man were given only two options, that is to hold on to the clerical Orthodoxy or choose Mohammedanism, any intelligent person would not doubt turn to the second, and choose Mohammedanism, with its crucial dogma of the One and Only God and His Prophet; whereas the Christians have a very complex and confusing theological system of Trinity, Redemption, Sacraments, the mother of God, saints and their images, and the complex Church services. It couldn't have been the other way, that is, it is impossible to imagine that Mohammedanism, pure of superstitions that are obscuring the essential meaning of the doctrine and became part of the Church faith, - failed to be given a higher position than the faith of Church merely due to the fact that Mohammedanism appeared some 600 years later, than Christianity".
The pantheism, or heathenism, which in the minds of believers bring God down to Earth, results in the insidious tendency to conceive of God after our own pattern. In the minds of the worshippers God is ascribed with the features of the earthly king, who should assume the responsibility for the evil things that happen in the world. Either He is not omnipotent and does not have the powers to eradicate evil, or He Himself allowed for this evil and enjoys it. The helpless believers can only abide by the unjust laws, established by God and humbly beg the strong, albeit wicked boss for some perks and benefits.
Heathen religion deifies the folklore, automatically dubbing the folklore of another nation the hostile religious mythology. The extreme form of heathenism manifests itself in the perception that the priestly class was "chosen by God", which, in turn, results in clericalism; that is to say, the struggle for the social supremacy of the clergy by means of the secular machinery of the state. This notion can even lead to the denial of the national identity of the people, when the nationality can be substituted by the cosmopolitan mythology.
The popular Church holiday of "The protecting veil of the Mother of God" was established by the Byzantine (and was later adopted by the Russian Orthodox Church) to commemorate the defeat of the Russian army at Constantinople in 860. The Russians came to set free their compatriots, who had been captured and enslaved by the Byzantine. As the Church version runs, an adolescent and a "God's fool", who were praying in the Vlahern Temple of Constantinople, had a vision of the Virgin, who covered the city with a large veil (omophore). When the Patriarch dipped a similar veil in the waters of Bosphorus, the Russian ships caught fire (in reality the fire was due to Greeks' extensive use of the incendiary bombs and the focusing of the natural light by magnifying glasses.) Many Russian warriors died, leaving behind widows and children, but the Russian Orthodox Church keeps celebrating this tragedy of the Russian people as one of the greater festivals.
The heathen religion is not based on the principles of moral. The accent is shifted to the practical benefit of a given petitioner from a given god; it is a distortion of the human consciousness, a failure to believe in the One and Only God Almighty; a rejection of morale and the ideas of the social and spiritual justice; a denial of the necessity of the social change of the world in accordance with the principles of equality, freedom and dignity of every man before God; finally, it is a consent to the concept of man's insignificance.
Studying the Quran, I came to understand the absence of a Christian single social doctrine; the Christian opposition of body and soul, religion and politics, duty and morality; the Christian principle of "all authorities are from God" and the necessity to obey the secular powers, letting the evil hit your other cheek. In his daily prayers the Christian calls himself a "lousy dog", "a lecherous and damned sinner", "a swine that lies in excrements" etc. One can not be pardoned for the numerous sins, which were not necessarily committed by him, but are "inherited" due to the flawed nature of man, without this ritual disparagement before the anthropomorphic God; without humble prayers to the souls of the dead. And I realized that the true Christianity that is sought by so many Christians nowadays, actually is the Word of Islam.
The Muslim only repents his personal sins, and, as a free man, personally manifests his good will. The Word of Islam is the understanding of one's own freedom, granted by the Almighty. Unlike the Orthodox Christians, the Muslims don't practice the "prayers of supplication": in Arabic, the word "salat", used for a ritual prayer, means "the glorification of God". And every Muslim starts his prayer with a testimony of his intention to witness the Glory of God: "I testify that I intend to praise the One and Only God. I testify that there are no gods but the One and Only God". It lays the basis for the development of a healthy and strong personality.
Islam is not hostile towards Christianity and Judaism as religions, as they are based upon the faith of Abraham (let peace be upon him!). Christians and Jews wishing to live peacefully with Muslims, are protected by the Faithful. This is of key importance for the future of Russia; as only belief in the One and Only God Almighty gives a free person the criteria for personal and social morality. This belief fills a person with the real content of the understanding of human dignity and social fairness and provides a person with assurance in tomorrow. It cements the basis of human society and a constitutional government. In the times of disturbed souls, absence of guiding light, and the bloody ghosts of the recent and not so recent past coming to life, - only the new ideology, based upon the true Faith, is capable of breathing new energy into our battered society.
"Allah has written down: I will most certainly prevail, I and My apostles; surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. You shall not find a people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His Apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk; these are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and whom He has strengthened with an inspiration from Him: and He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him these are Allah's party: now surely the party of Allah are the successful ones". (The Quran 58:2)