The Trinity of Islam

I was raised a trinitarian of sorts. I was taught that the Prophets of God are like perfect mirrors, where God is like the sun. The sunlight, though not God, was like the spirit of God—what Christians call the Holy Spirit and my Baha’i friends sometimes call the Maid of Heaven. The idea is that if you want to see God, all you have to do is look in the mirror. I mean—you know what I mean—don’t you?

Muhammad and Gabriel

Muhammad and Gabriel

Now that’s behind us; let’s look at Islam. How does it compare?

Islam’s creed gets off to a great start:

I testify that there is no god but God, …

… but then in falls into idolatry mid-sentence:

… and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.


If we are somewhat generous, we might recognize unitarianism in the first phrase of the creed; an assertion that no man can claim any partnership with God.

Unfortunately, that lofty ideal is nullified by the second phrase, which essentially causes the creed to state, “There is no god but God, but every word and act of Muhammad is of God.” Just look at how Muslims generally revere Muhammad as the perfect example of man.

There you have it: a divine incarnation; God in the flesh.

It doesn’t do any good to debate whether God really is incarnate. The only thing we need concern ourselves with is, as they say, the taste of the pudding. Is it a divine image, or isn’t it?

Now Muslims may insist that there’s a difference between “what would Jesus do?” and “what would Muhammad do?”, but I think it all comes down to a choice from among idols.

Moving right along, Muslims generally consider the Qur’an, that is, the words spoken by the Angel Gabriel, to be inerrant and uncreated (eternal). That sure sounds a lot like the Holy Spirit to me. What do you think?

So let us review. The following are the fundamental elements of Islam (more fundamental than the pillars themselves):

1) Father = Allah

2) Son = Muhammad

3) Holy Spirit = Gabriel (uncreated, divine words spoken by Holy Angel)

These three things that Muslims revere above all else are ultimately one in spirit; that is to say, they are one in their divine purpose. They are one so far as the believer is concerned. Muhammad may not be God in his essence, but he is divine in appearance; he is a “mirror”, as the Baha’is say. Is this not a trinity?

I have for years regarded my religion of birth, the Baha’i Faith, to be a trinitarian corruption of Islam, but lately I’m beginning to realize that Islam has been trinitarian from its beginning. I have on several occasions accused Baha’is of elevating Muhammad to a divine station that Islam does not claim. I’m beginning to suspect that I was mistaken.

Sorry guys!

Offender of the Faithful?

This blog got its name “Idol Chatter” for a reason, or even a couple of reasons. First of all, the blogger is a rather militant unitarian (note lowercase ‘u’). Secondly, he tries not to take his own chatter too seriously.

By “unitarian” is here meant anyone who recognizes the tendency of leaders, doctrines, and ideologies to become idols that stand in the way of our search for truth. Idolatry, according to this school of thought, is a mighty sly shape-shifting devil. As a former Unitarian minister once challenged us:

“We boast our emancipation from many superstitions; but if we have broken any idols, it is through a transfer of the idolatry.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Similarly, a Greek philosopher once cautioned:

“It is wise to listen not to me, but to the Logos, …” — Heraclitus

I use the term “unitarian” because this cautious mode of thinking is embodied in the Unitarian tradition, in which some Christians long ago determined that worshiping Jesus is missing the message of Jesus, who did not forbid blasphemy against himself, but rather forbade blasphemy against “the spirit”. It is the spirit of the message that gives life, he said, not the flesh of the messenger; not even the letter of the message.

In this sense, we can see that Jesus, whom some identify with the Logos, was not so different from Nietzsche’s anti-prophet Zarathustra:

“All the names of good and evil are parables: they do not declare, but only hint. Whoever among you seeks knowledge of them is a fool!” — Thus Spoke Zarathustra

The Great Iconoclast

Imagine if you will a medieval man, centuries after Christ, who was familiar with Judaism and Christianity. Imagine that this man was impressed by the Judaic aversion to idolatry, but also recognized Christ as a man—or messenger—of Truth. Imagine that he rejected the Trinity, and the notion that Jesus is God. Imagine that this man became quite well known for his opinion that Jesus is not God, such that we might consider him the first Unitarian. Imagine that he was a man of his time, and realizing the efficacy of power, mustered an army and ordered that army to pursue idolators and smash idols to the ends of the earth.

Let us call this man, for lack of a better name, Muhammad. Maybe this man was so single-minded about smashing idols that he might be called a prophet. Perhaps he was such a dedicated Unitarian that he rejected the very possibility of any religion other than the religion of Unitarianism, going so far as to call himself “the Seal of the Prophets”:

“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Apostle of God, and the seal of the prophets: and God knoweth all things.” Qur’an (Rodwell translation)

Let us further imagine that this man was seen by by his enemies as a militant religious fanatic and his followers as a crusader for his god Allah. Perhaps we can imagine that they had him wrong. Perhaps we can imagine that he was after something more fundamental, and that the rest—his doctrines, methods, and even his personal beliefs—was all circumstantial.

Idolatry in Islam

The man in the painting is not going bowling. If we look closely enough, we find that even Muhammad was an idolator; but who isn’t? Shall Muslims be permitted to rise above the man? Not if they continue to idolize him.

It is commonly understood that Islam means “submission”, but submission to what? Submission to Islam? Certainly not. That would be circular, would it not? It has always been understood to mean “submission to God”; but what is God? Is God to be taken as the Islamic image of God, “Allah”, or is God to be taken as that ultimate, unknowable creative essence behind—or within—things? Perhaps the core meaning of Islam is “submission to no idol, however subtle”.

“Seek knowledge even unto China” — Muhammad

If we were to take this as the essence of Islam, could this not be a religion of the future? Could we go so far as to say that Islam is faith in Reason? If this seems like too much of a stretch, can we at least see how Islam might be seen as a medieval attempt to free humanity of idolatry?

Let the true Muslims step forward to smash the idols of Islam.