Monday, June 28, 2010

Christian Islam Rising

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.


  1. Oh, if only these parents could see themselves with new eyes! Surely if they saw what a mockery they had made of the gospel, they would recoil in horror. Heartbreaking, and true.

  2. For exhibit A of what I'm talking about here, check out this blog post...

    These poor souls have been infected with a spiritual plague, and I find it very disturbing to hear how the men speak of their wives in the comment section - and how the wives speak of themselves. It's a good glimpse at the jar my ex-fiancee lives in, because I heard a lot of this poison from her.

    Islam translates "submission". Enough said.

  3. Just read the link and comments. *gag* Talk about a tutorial on how be emotionally abusive! Performance based acceptance too.

    Do these guys really believe they are totally superior, that women can't think, and that we are only good for doing whatever they want???

    I do believe that the man should have the final word on anything that is morally right or neutral. But I sure hope he listens to his wife first!

  4. Thank you so much for properly explaining and defining jihad. I have never found a Christian who would actually properly understand what "jihad" in an Islamic context is.

  5. What a horrible website! And written by a woman, too. That's disgusting.

    This bizarro teaching, that once a woman is married none of the rest of scripture applies to the believer-to-believer relationship, only the few verses about marriage are relevant- THAT BIZARRO teaching is epidemic in evangelical/fundamentalist circles.

    I predict that domestic violence and divorce will soon be higher in Christian marriages than in the world at large. Oh, it will take a good fifteen/twenty years for this doctrine to totally destroy the good will and love that were there at the beginning of the relationship- but it will happen.

    I feel so sorry for the men! These woman are cruel to their husbands. Not commanded to love them!? We are all commanded to love one another, and no meager love either, but as Jesus loves us, we are to love one another! Getting married does not nullify the direct commandment of Jesus! 0.0

    And who in this world needs a sycophant house servant? How boring and inconsequential such a person quickly becomes in the eyes of their "master". I imagine a man trying to have a critical discussion of any magnitude with such a woman. He would be forced to find intellectual stimulation elsewhere, as she would only agree with every thing he said so why speak to her at all?

    And can you imagine the sex life between one who does not love but always submits? Wouldn't that make her husband feel like a pervert? Sorry to be graphic, but it needs to be said by someone!

    I have been to two weddings recently where the young wives grovelled on and on about submitting, one ever pledging to have no desires of her own but to live only for her husbands desires. Neither of them spoke of loving their husbands at all. These young women are dooming their marriage to failure right out of the gate.

    The crazy part is that they think that by obliterating their intellect and passions, they are pleasing God and God will bless their marriages. I know they think that older women who warn them of the danger are simply not as committed to Christ as they are, and they will show us by their blissful lives how wrong we are.

    Yeah, right. We older woman need to make sure that the women's shelters remain well-funded and open for the fallout from this patriocentric weirdness. These women are going to need serious help one day.

  6. I can't imagine being married to a woman who doesn't love me but dutifully, out of obligation, "respects" me and submits to me. How fulfilling.

    It's perverse. In every imaginable way.

  7. I've decided to start using the literal translation of "Islam" and just begin referring to Patriarchy, at all times, as Christian Islam. The anti-wordgame.

    If the shoe fits...

  8. On the blog I linked a few comments above, the writer (a female) is now suggesting that husbands should use Cesar Milan's (the Dog Whisperer) techniques on their wives. I couldn't be more serious.

    This may be the first sign of the apocalypse.

    If anything, Cesar Milan should be brought in to work on the headship-obsessed husbands.

  9. Words fail me.

    Why is it a women who is always the cruelest and loudest advocates of misogyny? She betrays all of her sisters in Christ. Shame on her.

  10. I agree. Shame on her. Even if I were an atheist, shame on her.

    As you look around her blog, there's a fixation on "feminists", which suggests to me that her religion is more about the culture war than about the cause of Christ. When people live with a militant mindset, they adopt spiritual, emotional, and intellectual martial law.

  11. Thank you, Lewis! :'-( It brings tears to my eyes to finally see men who love God standing up for those of us who were trapped for so long in "Christian Islam". I love your comparison. That is amazing - so many points I had not thought of yet.

    ~Annie Oakley

  12. Wow! That blog makes me sick! What's to say a woman doesn't respect softness in a man??? We may express fear and blind "obedience" to a man who is harsh and "firm" as they say, but we will not respect him. Want a girl to be "putty in your hands" (as they say on Hogan's Heroes)? Try being gentle and soft. She will be in true awe of you - an awe that will not make her blindly obedient, but truly crazy about you and being your wife. I think those men (and women) confuse all out scared to death fear with respect. I could make some pretty nasty comments- that are likely true - about things they said, but I think I better stop.

    ~Annie Oakley

  13. Wow. The paralells are so eerily similar it's scary. This is a great post. I think I'll tuck it awy to link to later. :)

  14. I found this post through a Facebook friend who posted it on her wall. I went and read that other post you linked to and wow. That's frightening! I left a comment there giving the "other side of the story".

    I married a man like that. If I had known he was like that, I wouldn't have married him! Because of his abusive behavior I am now back home with my parents and we're probably headed for a divorce next spring.

    Shadowspring, I don't think the husband feels much like a pervert in that situation RE: sex. I felt like a prostitute most of the time, except a prostitute gets paid! True Christian men might feel like perverts, but true Christian men aren't really going to find themselves in that type of situation because they know it's not true Christian behavior.

    Fear does not equal respect. Annie Oakley is right. Women don't want to be treated like property. As I tell people, they may be fun to date but the guy you marry is the one who cries at the end of Old Yeller and brings you flowers just because. Give me a guy hiding a marshmallow inside who adores and protects me any day over a Rambo who thinks of me as nothing more than property.

    I'm afraid of my husband. I do not respect him. He destroyed that a long time ago. His idea of submission is my definition of slavery. We moved from MS to NY and once we got up there he wouldn't hardly let me go anywhere. He "loaned" his car to someone and would not let me drive mine. I couldn't go to the store by myself, he cut off my Internet access and I was afraid he was going to take my cell phone. I was afraid for my life!

    I do believe in Biblical submission and the man being the head of the house. But not to the extent of the crazies on that other blog! The man being the head of the family does not mean the wife ceases to matter. Who is it in Proverbs 31 that manages everything? It's not the husband. The wife does it. That hardly lines up with that other definition of submission.

  15. Wow Lewis...that is a great parallel. My heart hurts for you that your ex followed her father, and it hurts for her, because she is still trapped in that setting.

    I can indentify with her about the whole "ungodly" thought and hating myself because of it.