Thursday, February 23, 2006

Islam's Greatest Enemy?

The Samarra aftermath? Not so good. Though we await the outcome of the investigation as to who was behind the attack, most likely the bomb was set off by Muslim extremists, intending (let's hope not successfully) to spark civil war.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is quite deliberately patterned to rival the earlier dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which marks (we are told) both the place of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. The middle picture above (the Sepulchre dome is gray) makes this visual polemic unmistakable.

In a wake up call to progressive Christians who think one can "reconsider" the Trinity without consequence, a major inscription in the Dome of the Rock pleads:
"Stop talking about a Trinity. Cease in your own best interests! Verily God is the God of unity. Lord Almighty! That God would beget a child?"
Christians in contrast joyfully insist on the dynamic fecundity of the triune God who is love, and because love is necessarily directed to another - talk about an eternal Trinity we must. This certainly doesn't mean there isn't room for Muslim/Christian agreement. A real Christian and a real Muslim can sign on (at the very least) to...
1. A God who exists independent of human perception.
2. The greatness, mercy and glory of God which surpasses human perception.
3. The fact that God has nevertheless been revealed so as to be grapsed (albeit not completely) by human perception.
4. The fact that naughty Enlightenment no-no's like miracles and angels might just be admissible to a reasonable mind after all.
5. The fact that that God makes moral demands of humans that are not to be lightly dismissed.
6. The fact that humans will be held accountable to such demands on a future day of judgment.
7. The fact that faith, prayer, fasting, giving alms and even going on pilgrimage are all very good ideas.
It would be a banner day in inter-Christian dialogue if Christians could find common consent on all such points. I have even gotten to where procuring point #1 alone from my Princeton co-religionists makes me feel like I've hit the ecumenical jackpot - whereas with a Muslim, all seven (I assume) enjoy normative consent.

However when it comes to exactly how this God has been revealed (no small matter), I cannot deny the supra-prophetic divinity of Jesus Christ - not to mention the Sprit - which firmly plants me on Trinitarian turf. Real Christians and real Muslims will always be at (not necessarily violent) odds about this. But that being said, perhaps yesterday's events illustrate that the greatest threat to Islam might not be from those "talking about a Trinity."

As was probably the case in Samarra, the most pernicious threat to Islam is (I would not be the first to suggest) from pseudo-Muslims; just as the most pernicious threat to Christianity is from pseudo-Christians. And not having been yet canonized, this of course includes myself.