A Sketch of Mohammedanism -- By: Bruce M. Metzger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 093:371 (Jul 1936)
Article: A Sketch of Mohammedanism
Author: Bruce M. Metzger

A Sketch of Mohammedanism

Bruce M. Metzger

Of the ten major non-Christian religions in the world today Mohammedanism is the only one that is growing. It is growing about as rapidly as Christianity, and, therefore, Mohammedanism presents an especially great challenge to Christians.

Mohammedanism is younger than Christianity. It was in 622 that Mohammed, its founder, gave the world this hybrid religion. Mohammed was a prosperous merchant of middle age. He suffered from epileptic fits, which were attributed to demons. This malady, which often bordered on insanity, drove him at times into solitary contemplation. He would go out into the Arabian desert where he received what he maintained were divine visions. It was after one of these experiences that he returned and made a startling announcement to his friends and relatives. He told them that he had received a divine commission to reform the faith and practice of the whole Arabian nation. Though both the Jewish and the Christian religions had been sent from God, he said, yet he himself was the recipient of a system more perfect than either. His wife and a few other immediate relatives were the prophet’s first disciples, but this number did not increase very rapidly. The people of his home city, Mecca, denounced him as a madman or an imposter. In a little time he was forced to flee from Mecca to save his life. In 622 he fled to what is now Medina, from which date (July 15, 622 A.D.) all Mohammedan countries today reckon time. At Medina he was welcomed with open arms. Here he built his first mosque.

A complete change now came over Mohammed. The dreamer became a red-handed soldier. “The sword,” he cried,

“is the key of heaven and hell.” And by the sword his religion was forced upon others. Tribe after tribe was subdued. The cruelty of Mohammedan soldiers became a byword. His army gave the captives their choice of either instant death or acceptance of Mohammedanism. Needless to say, almost all of them became his followers.

Such is a brief historical sketch of the life of the founder of Islam. Now let us review some of a good Moslem’s beliefs.

Mohammedans believe in one God, Allah. Thus, this religion is monotheistic. They know of Moses and the prophets and of Jesus, but they declare that Mohammed was greater than all these. Their shibboleth is, “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” God, they rightly believe, is good and powerful. Of the ninety-nine attributes1 which they ascribe to Allah, however, they omit holiness and justice. Mohammed was acquainted, in a general way, with some of the Old Testament narratives, suc...

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