Islam saw Allah, but not man; saw the claims of deity, not the rights of humanity; saw authority, failed to see freedom—therefore hardened into despotism.
—James Freeman Clarke, 1871
Under withering criticism, last Monday afternoon 6/20/16, a grudging Justice Department released the full, unredacted transcript of Orlando jihadist butcher, and pious Muslim, Omar Mateen’s 911 call during his acts of merciless carnage at a gay nightclub. Upon release of this full transcript, the Justice Department reacted peevishly insisting the morning’s furor over their initial deletions of the words “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” was “an unnecessary distraction.” But even the alleged “unredacted” transcript, which included Mateen’s invocation of the bismallah—an Arabic formulation, “in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate [or beneficent],” uttered before commencing a Sharia [Islamic law] sanctioned act—translated “Allah,” the Muslim deity, as “God.”
All Americans, especially those media, political, and academic savants constantly bequeathing us with their putative “wisdom” on Islam, would do well to study James Freeman Clarke’s timeless assessment of Allah, juxtaposed to the Judeo-Christian God. Clarke (1810–1888) was an American theologian, philosopher, author, and abolitionist. He also became one of the first American scholars to study and write about Eastern religions, including, notably, Islam
Arguably still America’s greatest, scholar of comparative religion Clarke expounded upon the Muslim deity in his 1871 treatise, “Ten Great Religions—An Essay in Comparative Theology.” Clarke saw in Islam’s conception of Allah—“that which makes of God pure will . . . divorced from reason and love”—a regression from the Judeo-Christian God.
Comparing Islam to Judaism, Clarke observes,
Goodness does not consist in obedience to divine will, but in conformity to the divine character. This is the doctrine of the Old Testament and one of its noblest characteristics. . . . Mohammedanism is a relapse [from Judaism] . . . for it makes God only an arbitrary sovereign whose will is to be obeyed without any reference to its moral character.
Moreover, Clarke notes, Islam’s Allah was “abstracted from matter, and so not to be represented by pictures and images; God withdrawn out of the world, and above all—in total separation.”
In contrast, Judaism conceptualized God as being “with man, by his repeated miraculous coming down in prophets, judges, kings; also with his people, the Jews, mysteriously present in their tabernacle and temple.”
Christianity, Clarke maintains, added the notion of the God “in us all,” a strong pantheistic tendency, likely derived from the converted Greeks and Romans.
The New Testament is full of this kind of pantheism,—God in man, as well as God with man. Jesus made the step forward from God with man to God in man,—“I in them, thou in me.” The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is this idea, of God who is not only will and power, not only wisdom and law, but also love; of a God who desires communion and intercourse with his children, so coming and dwelling in them. Mohammed teaches a God above us; Moses teaches a God above us, and yet with us; Jesus teaches God above us, God with us, and God in us.
Clarke concludes that Islam’s alternate “central idea concerning God”—its conception of Allah—has not been salutary for Muslim societies.
Its governments are not governments. . . . It makes life barren and empty. It encourages a savage pride and cruelty. It makes men tyrants or slaves, women puppets, religion the submission to an infinite despotism.
Islamic despotism and cruelty—rooted in the creed’s conception of its deity, Allah, and imbibed by Allah’s willing individual Muslim slaves—was on ugly display when Omar Mateen gleefully slaughtered 49 Americans in Orlando, June 12 , 2016.