From the beginning of my relationship with my ex-fiancee, with the obvious "differences" noted within her family that were in plain sight, I had to field a lot of "exactly what denomination are they?" questions from people in my world who had met them. My answer? "They're Christian...umm...Islam?" I didn't know what else to call it. Everything about them was so ritual-based, dos and don'ts, as if they were earning their salvation rather than believing in it. The similarities are striking and frightening.
In this post, I want to compare the brand of Christianity I witnessed in them with some rudimentary knowledge of Islam. This is by no means a scholarly undertaking. I've studied the issue only minimally. At some point I may, and likely will, do a thorough, studious examination of the issue, which would require a bit more intensive and extensive look at Islam. Right now I'll only be dealing in some of the more commonly known aspects of Islam in comparison to patriocentric fundamentalism.
The literal definition of "Islam" is "submission". The literal definition of "Muslim" is "one who submits". That's more than a little unnerving, considering that I've heard so much about "headship" in the last three years that it left me looking for the mothership, and I've heard "submission" harped on repeatedly and misguidedly.
Islam is based around the 5 pillars. The 5 pillars are dutiful, ritualistic, obligatory acts of worship. (none of the pillars contain the key element that separates Islam from Christianity: love)
One of the 5 pillars is "shahadah", which is an oath that must be spoken. The "shahadah" is "I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God, and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God." Just think how easily the creed of patriocentrics could be summed up as "I testify that there is but one true God, and my father/husband, who is my appointed head, is the messenger of God and my means of communication and source of all knowledge." With other fundamentalists, the messenger would be interchanged with "church authorities" or something in that vein.
Another pillar is "salah", the ritual prayer which is performed 5 times daily. My ex-fiancee once asked me to pray for her. A bit perplexed, I asked her what she wanted me to pray for. Her response, "I just don't feel like I'm living close enough to the Lord. I'm not reading my bible enough and I'm not praying enough." She was feeling guilt for not adhering to her family's ritual practices with the same vigor. They had daily, force-fed devotions (more realistically, indoctrination sessions) and prayer times. I refer to them as "force-fed" for the simple reason that, if any of the children had expressed a desire to miss a devotion/prayer (and by "children" I mean adult children), the world would've come grinding to a halt, they would've been accused of rebellion, and it would've been used against them as emotional leverage. I tried to explain to her that if she were only reading and praying out of obligation, out of a response to what she saw as the sin-nature or flesh, and trying to overcome it with works, she shouldn't really expect to get anything beneficial from it. Look at it this way - let's say I have two different visitors stop by to see me today. The first, upon driving up the road toward my house, says to himself, "Hey! There's Lew's place! I love that guy. I'm gonna stop in and see how he's doing!". The second guy, upon driving up the road, says, "Oh, crap! There's Lew's place. If he finds out I was out here and didn't stop in to see him, I'll never hear the end of it. I guess I'll have to stop in there for a bit. I should've gone the other way." Guess which of the two I'll enjoy visiting with.
The other three pillars all deal with sacrificial ritual, such as the pilgrimage to Mecca (displaying devotion to Allah). All ritualistic works.
"Jihad" is considered by certain Muslims to be the sixth pillar. We know Jihad in the sense of a "holy war" carried out by military force, but Jihad has several connotations and meanings, one of which is "striving to attain moral and religious perfection." This Jihad is the means by which a Muslim declares war on his naturally morally decrepit self. It reminds me of the patriocentric/fundamentalist obsession with the "sin nature" or "Adamic nature", focusing on one's own person, rather than on the grace of Christ. As a Christmas gift in 2007 (her family didn't officially celebrate Christmas - it was "pagan"), my ex-fiancee sent me a prayer journal of hers from about a year prior. I thought it was immensely sweet, but at the same time, I knew there was something in it that she needed me to see. About 2/3 of the way through it, I came upon the entry at the bottom of it all. She had once had an impure thought about a man, and spent an entire page of this journal beating the crap out of herself for being such a depraved, vile sinner. The entry began with "I'm a fornicator!!!" It brought tears to my eyes that she had such a distorted view of what "purity" was, what being a human being is, and what God's grace is. The slightest impurity of thought was all it took to send her into an emotional and spiritual tailspin, declaring a Jihad upon herself. A bit of anger welled up in me toward her parents. The resentment lingers today. She was scared to death that I'd read this and change my opinion of her or cease to love her. I told her that she'd never been more beautiful to me, that I loved her even more, and she didn't have to earn my love or prove "worthy" of it.
Islamic law is "Sharia", translated "the path leading to the watering place." It's considered the duty of any Muslim to abide by the Sharia, and in doing so, they'll arrive at all of the blessings of Islam. Patriocentrics and other fundamentalists have bought into several movement's theories of how to achieve the perfect, uber-Christian family, relying on formulaic processes, their very own "Sharia", to get there.
Islam doesn't separate between church and state, for that would suggest freedom to be something other than Islamic. Most Islamic states are extremely rigid about the access to other religions their people have, and the access to other ways of life their people have. This would suggest that they believe they can keep their people pure by not giving them the opportunities to be exposed to impurities. They see Zionism and depraved western society as the world's undoing. This resembles patrios/fundamentalists, who would prefer an American Christian theocracy, and who believe they can keep their families pure by keeping that mean ole devil, and all of his vices, hidden from view of their children, eventually producing spiritually and emotionally pure (through dutiful works) soldiers for God to carry on their own continuing fundamentalist Jihad against depraved western society.
When I think of the indoctrination involved in patriocentric/fundamentalist families, I always think of a news clip I saw several years ago. It showed a Palestinian children's television show, where the Palestinian youth were learning a bitter hatred and loathing of Israel through singing hate-filled songs and dancing - with all of the smiles, color, and pageantry of Barney the Dinosaur.
It was pathetic. That's the only word I know for it. Hate, fear, and isolationism being drilled into children, masked behind a facade of religious purity and virtue, and the call to a higher purpose.
Sounds like something else I know of, with love and grace nowhere to be found.