Concepts of Divine Love

Dif­fer­ences Between The Mus­lim And Chris­t­ian Con­cepts Of Divine Love

All reli­gions ful­fill sev­er­al func­tions. They try to estab­lish a rela­tion­ship between man and the larg­er Real­i­ty of which he forms a tiny part, ori­ent­ing him with­in the immense uni­verse that he inhab­its. This usu­al­lyBud­dhism is an excep­tion in as much as Bud­dhists refuse enter­ing into any spec­u­la­tion about tran­scen­den­tal real­i­ty. See Bukkyo Den­do Kyokai, The Teach­ing of Bud­dha, 9th ed., Kosai­do Print­ing Co., Ltd. (Tokyo), 2004. leads to a meta­phys­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tion of the world and con­cep­tion­al­ly to the pos­tu­la­tion of a divine Supreme Being. These efforts soon­er or lat­er cul­mi­nate in a sci­ence of God, ver­bal­ly the­ol­o­gy”, called al-aqi­da in Islam.

In every­day life reli­gions are also called upon to pro­vide rules for wor­ship­ping the Deity (al-´ibadat) and for the con­duct of human affairs in all fields (al-mu’a­malat). These aspects of reli­gios­i­ty tend to com­mand the great­est atten­tion, not only because they impact direct­ly on the con­duct of every­day life, but also because they are more con­crete and prac­ti­cal than the rather eso­teric con­tri­bu­tions of the­ol­o­gy in its orig­i­nal and purest sense. Worse, the role played by reli­gions in pol­i­tics today begets activ­i­ties which total­ly over­shad­ow the the­o­log­i­cal aspects of reli­gion. This is true of all con­tem­po­rary reli­gious or pseu­do-reli­gious phe­nom­e­na known as “-isms”.

They include Amer­i­can Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians pro­mot­ing a fright­en­ing­ly politi­cized fun­da­men­tal­ism as well as what now is called Islamism, i.e. a mil­i­tant polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy prac­ticed by Mus­lims.The lat­ter phe­nom­e­non has recent­ly been diag­nosed by Megh­nad Desai, a British Lord, in his book on Rethink­ing Islamism — The Ide­ol­o­gy of the New Ter­ror”, Tau­ris : Lon­don 2007. There­fore, as rec­og­nized by the Roy­al Aal al-Bayt Insti­tute for Islam­ic Thought, it is now of the essence to focus on the very root of Islam­ic reli­gios­i­ty : the belief in Allah ta’ala as a Deity Who inter­acts with His cre­ation in a lov­ing man­ner and Who com­mands the love and affec­tion of all true believers.

Lov­ing God in Islam and Christianity

The Chris­t­ian Concept

Chris­tians con­sid­er their faith pro­to­typ­i­cal­ly a reli­gion of love”. This is meant com­pre­hen­sive­ly, i.e. as a reli­gious appeal, and even com­mand, (a) to love God and (b) to love one’s neigh­bour”, i.e. all of mankind — friends and ene­mies as well.

Lov­ing God

The Chris­t­ian com­mand to love God, announced by Jesus, is embed­ded in St. Mark 12, 30 and reads :

And you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength ; this is the first commandment.”

In the words of Hugo Ball (d. 1927) the faith­ful are not on the look-out for rea­sons jus­ti­fy­ing the love of God. Rather, they throw them­selves into the love of God like pearl fish­ers div­ing into the ocean”.Hugo Ball, p. 49.

In real­i­ty, this com­mand is not a Chris­t­ian inno­va­tion at all. The same text — ver­bal­ly — fig­ured already in the Fifth Book of Moses 6,5. Indeed, accord­ing to the Bible God is not only lov­able for being gra­cious, just and merciful.

Indeed, the Book of Songs — being the 5th Book of the Bib­li­cal Psalms — is a trea­sure of lines pro­fess­ing love of God. No won­der the Church incor­po­rat­ed the Psalms into Chris­t­ian lore, just as the Mus­lims have adopt­ed them (call­ing them az-Zabur) as one of the few reli­ably revealed pas­sages of the Old Testament :

  • I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my sup­pli­ca­tion (1161).
  • Gra­cious is the Lord, and right­eous, yes, our God is mer­ci­ful (1165).
  • Your com­mand­ments which I love shall be my delight (11947).
  • Oh, how I love your law ( 11997).
  • Your com­mands I have tak­en as a her­itage for­ev­er, for they are the rejoic­ing of my heart (119,111).

It will be noticed that the authors of the Psalms well before the Medieval Chris­t­ian mys­tics had already reached a lev­el of ado­ra­tion where lov­ing God and obey­ing his com­mands did no longer result from fear but from devotion.

The (unknown) author of the First Epis­tle of John­The author of this let­ter is unknown. He cer­tain­ly was not the favorite dis­ci­ple of Jesus known under the name of John. enlarges on this com­mand by say­ing that God is love. He who dwells in love, dwells in God (416).

Lov­ing Man

The Chris­t­ian com­mand to love God is inti­mate­ly linked to the sec­ond com­mand”, i.e. to love one‘s fel­low man :

And the sec­ond com­mand is alike, name­ly this : You shall love your neigh­bour like your­self. There is no oth­er com­mand greater than these (St. Mark 1231).

In the Book of Mor­mon this com­mand reap­pears : Every man should love his neigh­bor as him­self (Mosi­ah 23 : 15).

Insight­ful the great Jesuit the­olo­gian Karl Rah­n­er (d. 1984) com­ment­ed this rule as fol­lows : Love of God can only be real­ized through uncon­di­tion­al love of one‘s next-door neigh­bor since only that way one can pierce the hell of one’s ego­tism.“Karl Rah­n­er, Warum bin ich Christ ? in : Mey­ers, Enzyk­lopädis­ches Lexikon, Vol. 5, p. 672. The Gospel makes clear that char­i­ty giv­en to one’s broth­er is a way of lov­ing God :

In as much as you have done it to the least of my broth­ers, you have done it to Me (St. Matthew, 2540).

This is fol­lowed up by a state­ment of psy­cho­log­i­cal depth :

If a man should say I love God” but hates his broth­er, he is a liar. For if he does not love his broth­er whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen?” (1 John 420).

Pecu­liar­i­ties

In two ways, the Chris­t­ian con­cept of love is peculiar :

(i) The Chris­t­ian notion of lov­ing God is deeply col­ored by the Chris­t­ian doc­trine of Incar­na­tion which since the 1st Ecu­meni­cal Coun­cil of Eph­esus in 325 implies that Jesus insep­a­ra­bly was both divine and human, fig­ur­ing among the three divine per­sons who accord­ing to Church dog­ma form Trin­i­ty. Con­se­quent­ly, for Chris­tians the love of God is iden­ti­fied very much with lov­ing Jesus, i.e. a con­crete and there­fore touch­able” his­toric personality.

Thus an ency­clo­pe­dic def­i­n­i­tion of Chris­ten­dom reads : Love, faith­ful­ly hav­ing become vis­i­ble in Jesus Christ, is the way towards hope for mankind.” Romano Guar­di­ni (d. 1968) went to an extreme when for­mu­lat­ing that Jesus Christ is the essence of Chris­tian­i­ty — not an idea, not a pro­gramme, not an ide­ol­o­gy, but a per­son”.For both quo­ta­tions (my trans­la­tion), see Mey­ers (Note 5), p. 671

This notion is retained in the Book of Mor­mon where we read : you must press for­ward with a stead­fast­ness in Christ, hav­ing a per­fect bright­ness of hope and a love of God and of all men.” (2 Nephi 31:20).

The Mus­lim Concept

Lov­ing God

(i) The cli­mate of the Mus­lim devo­tion to God dif­fers from the Chris­t­ian one because for Mus­lims God has not been incar­nat­ed as Baby Jesus in the manger — cud­dly and love­ly — but rather remains an awe­some Divin­i­ty, so close to us that we can­not see Him.

No human vision can encom­pass Him, where­as He encom­pass­es all human vision (6 : 103).

In short, He is the One beyond time and space Whose Being total­ly escapes our cat­e­go­riza­tion. Indeed, we can­not catch His Real­i­ty with the per­cep­tion­al net­work pro­vid­ed by our man-made (and there­fore loaded” languages).

In fact, talk­ing about God is a lin­guis­tic trap. Lud­wig Wittgen­stein (d. 1951) was there­fore right in ter­mi­nat­ing his Trac­ta­tus logi­co-philo­soph­i­cus (first print­ed in 1921) with the stun­ning phrase : Of what one can­not speak, about that one must remain silent” (no. 7).

(ii) True, for Mus­lims, too, Allah is not only tran­scen­dent but also imma­nent since Allah is clos­er to us than our jugu­lar vein (50:16). And He has full knowl­edge of what is in the hearts (or bosoms) of peo­ple (11 : 5 ; 42 : 24 ; 57 : 6 ; 64 : 4 ; 67 : 13).

Mus­lims are there­fore expect­ed to love Allah more than any­thing else (2:165).

Nev­er­the­less He remains unfath­omable, unimag­in­able, unseiz­able, incom­pre­hen­si­ble, inde­scrib­able. We are told that His are the most beau­ti­ful names /​attrib­ut­es (7 : 180 ; 17 : 110 ; 20 : 8). But this is of lit­tle help because we must not coin any simil­i­tude for God (6 : 74). It is of course true as well that in the Qur’an, for instance in the Light Verse (24 : 35) and in the Throne Verse (59 : 22 – 24) Allah has giv­en us a self-descrip­tion. Yet, do we real­ly come clos­er to the secret when Allah iden­ti­fies with the Light of the heav­ens and the earth ? Can we under­stand any of the divine attrib­ut­es oth­er than nom­i­nal­is­ti­cal­ly, like Ibn Hazm before ? Indeed, for he to whom Allah gives no light, no light what­ev­er has he (24:40). There­fore, we can legit­i­mate­ly go about defin­ing God in neg­a­tive terms only, list­ing what can not be said of Him : That He can­not not exist ; can­not die ; can­not mul­ti­ply Him­self since God is a sin­gle God (2 : 163 ; 16 : 2251) .

(iii) All this is true and full of com­plex­i­ty. Nev­er­the­less, lov­ing God naive­ly is pos­si­ble not only for Chris­tians but for Mus­lims as well since they are aware that Allah in his good­ness is lim­it­less (57:21) and that His grace over­spreads every­thing (7:156).

All Mus­lims have to be grate­ful that Mus­lim mys­tics — the Sufi move­ment — have been able on this basis to devel­op an Islam­ic mys­ti­cism of love in spite of all the dif­fi­cul­ties of visu­al­iz­ing Allah. The Sufi approach is of course high­ly spec­u­la­tive. But emo­tion­al­ly it is more sat­is­fac­to­ry than the cool sober­ness of the philo­soph­i­cal (al-mu’­takalim) approach described above.

Lov­ing Man

As much as the Chris­t­ian faith Islam teach­es that the love of God must trans­late into com­pas­sion for man. How­ev­er, Mus­lims are a bit more hes­i­tant when it goes to use the word love”. In gen­er­al they pre­fer to des­ig­nate the same atti­tude as broth­er and sisterhood.

State­ments on broth­er­hood in the Qur’an most explic­it­ly refer to rela­tions between Mus­lims ( 3 : 103 ; 9 : 11 ; 48 : 29;49 : 10 ). Even so, the Qur‘an amply makes clear that its basic mes­sage is addressed to all of mankind ( 20 : 55 ; 40 : 64 ; 103 ; 114), not only by address­ing its audi­ence Oh mankind!“or Oh Chil­dren of Adam!” ( 2 : 169 ; 4 : 170, 174 ; 7 : 26, 31, 35 ; 10:23, 57, 104, 108 ; 22 : 5 ; 31:33 ; 35 : 5, 15 ; 49 : 13 ; 53 : 3 ). Indeed the Qur’an is a clear les­son for all men and a guid­ance and an admo­ni­tion for all the God-con­scious (3 : 138).

As far as Chris­tians are con­cerned the Qur’an does not pro­nounce an abstract con­cept like to love your neigh­bour”. How­ev­er, in more con­crete terms its vers­es estab­lish that what is meant is the Chris­t­ian way. Thus Mus­lims are urged to do good to their neigh­bours (4 : 36), show kind­ness even to (non-aggres­sive) dis­be­liev­ers (60 : 8), spend on oth­ers in char­i­ty out of what one cher­ish­es most (3 : 92 ; 4 : 114), and to be just in all deal­ings, no mat­ter with whom (4 : 58 ; 5 : 8, 42 ; 7 : 29 ; 16 : 90 ; 68 : 34).

If not in word­ing, in sub­stance these rules add up to a Mus­lim love thy neighbour”-command. By rul­ing out injus­tice, glob­al­ly, Islam is com­mand­ing jus­tice, globally.

God Lov­ing His Cre­ation in Islam and Christianity

The Chris­t­ian Concept

a) The idea that God might love” what He cre­at­ed is not self-evi­dent. On the con­trary, one might argue that love estab­lish­es a long­ing and depen­den­cy between the lover and the loved one that is irrec­on­cil­able with God.

It seems fea­si­ble for the gods of Greek and Roman antiq­ui­ty to pose as god­dess­es of love and beau­ty, like Aphrodite and Venus, because in antique mythol­o­gy human love was a qual­i­ty of gods.

b) Giv­en the dual nature of Jesus in the eyes of Chris­tians, his love for mankind may be under­stood more eas­i­ly by them as cor­re­spond­ing to the human sen­ti­ment which all men and women expe­ri­ence. The same con­clu­sion might be drawn from inter­pret­ing the his­to­ry of Israel as a sen­ti­men­tal mutu­al rela­tion­ship between a lov­ing God and his priv­i­leged Cho­sen People”.

c) At any rate, in Chris­tian­i­ty the lov­ing nature of God is tak­en as an essen­tial qual­i­ty of deity, as expressed in star­tling fash­ion in 1 John 4,19 : We love Him because He first loved us.

On this basis Jesus is seen by many Chris­tians as sort of a per­fect Sufi. In fact, in much of Chris­t­ian mys­ti­cism was cul­ti­vat­ed a star­tling inti­ma­cy with Jesus that for Mus­lims bor­ders on, or cross­es over into, blasphemy.

This was true in par­tic­u­lar with the Span­ish nun, St There­sa of Avi­la (d. 1582) and her spir­i­tu­al friend St John of the Cross (d. around 1581). This trend opened the door for a human­iza­tion of Jesus, allow­ing him to be depict­ed as suf­fer­ing with man, even now.

The Islam­ic Concept 

a) In the Qur’an, we are told that Allah is self-suf­fi­cient (64:6, last sen­tence). This fun­da­men­tal self-descrip­tion def­i­nite­ly excludes that Allah is in love with his cre­ation the way humans trea­sure, desire, and miss each oth­er, try­ing to fuse their self with a beloved per­son to whom they may become utter­ly dependent.

God can­not pos­si­bly love his cre­ation that human way ! There­fore it is safer and more accu­rate not to speak of love” when address­ing His clemen­cy, com­pas­sion, benev­o­lence, good­ness, or mercy.

b) This assess­ment is not con­tra­dict­ed by the many vers­es in which Allah ta´ala is men­tioned as lov­ing” some­thing. Thus it says that Allah loves :

  • the doers of good (3:31, 148 ; 5:93),
  • those who are patient in adver­si­ty (3:146),
  • those who place their trust in Him (3:159),
  • those who are con­scious of Him (9:7)
  • all who puri­fy them­selves (9:108)
  • those who believe and do per­form good deeds (19:96)
  • those who act equi­tably (60:8)

In all these cas­es, Allah loves” must be under­stood as Allah approves”, is con­tent with” or views pos­i­tive­ly” those who act as described. Love” here does not refer to emo­tion­al involvement.

That this inter­pre­ta­tion is cor­rect can be deduced as well from those vers­es in which Allah speaks of not lov­ing. Thus we read that Allah does not love :

  • the dis­be­liev­ers (3:32),
  • the trans­gres­sors (5:87 ; 7:55),
  • the waste­ful (7:31), nor
  • the trai­tors (8:58).

Not lov­ing” here stands for dis­ap­prov­ing, con­demn­ing, crit­i­ciz­ing, rejecting.

c) How­ev­er, in 19:96, we do read after all that the Most Gra­cious will bestow His love on those who attain to faith and do good deeds, in 3 : 31 that If you indeed love Allah…Allah will love you”, and in 5 : 54 that, under cir­cum­stances, God will in time bring forth peo­ple whom He loves and who love Him. Admit­ted­ly, these quo­ta­tion could be seen as proof for a love of God for His cre­ation com­pa­ra­ble to the love human beings are capa­ble of. But this inter­pre­ta­tion must be ruled out as incom­pat­i­ble with the very nature of God as sub­lime and total­ly self-sufficient.

Con­clu­sions

1) The Chris­t­ian and the Islam­ic con­sid­er­a­tions con­cern­ing love in divine con­text have been shown as not being iden­ti­cal but sim­i­lar, as was to be expected.

2) Dif­fer­ences between the two approach­es result above all from the :

  • Mus­lim ret­i­cence to asso­ciate God with a human­ized notion of love,
  • Mus­lim pref­er­ence for the term broth­er­hood” in most cas­es for which Chris­tians choose to employ the term love” (of one’s neighbour).

3) There is, how­ev­er, a major the­o­ret­i­cal dis­crep­an­cy between the two denom­i­na­tions in as much as the con­cept of lov­ing one’s ene­my is nowhere to be found in Islam­ic doc­trine (if one neglects cer­tain Chris­tian­ized Mus­lim mys­tic circles).

This dif­fer­ence is, how­ev­er, more the­o­ret­i­cal than real. Indeed, at no moment in his­to­ry was Chris­t­ian behav­ior on the ground deter­mined by their doc­trine of lov­ing one’s ene­my — not even to the slight­est degree. And this obser­va­tion is not sur­pris­ing since lov­ing one’s ene­my goes against the very grain of peo­ple and there­fore is nowhere act­ed upon as a rule. Liv­ing accord­ing to the con­cept of lov­ing one‘s ene­my was giv­en only to a few peo­ple of saint­ly dis­po­si­tion, like St Fran­cis of Assisi (d. 1226) on the Chris­t­ian side and Jalal ad-Din Rumi (d. 1273) among Mus­lims. Their supreme humil­i­ty and tol­er­ance, their devo­tion to oth­er men, and their joy­ous reli­gious fer­vor were so sin­gu­lar that, as excep­tions, they con­firmed the rule sketched out above.

4) This leads me to a final con­sid­er­a­tion con­cern­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal impact of pro­mot­ing a rule — to love one’s foe — that is inac­ces­si­ble to 99.9% of all peo­ple. Admit­ting this sit­u­a­tion, Chris­tians might argue that nev­er­the­less we need lofty ideals to strive for, even if they are vir­tu­al­ly unat­tain­able. Mus­lims might reply that it is detri­men­tal for pub­lic moral­i­ty if unat­tain­able rules are pro­mot­ed which, of course, are con­stant­ly vio­lat­ed by every­body in sight, because that (Chris­t­ian) approach cre­ates a cli­mate of, and pro­motes, hypocrisy at a mas­sive scale. I share the lat­ter judg­ment, being afraid that peo­ple used to vio­lat­ing basic rules of their pro­fessed moral code might become cyn­i­cal about moral­i­ty as such. Indeed there is divine wis­dom behind the fact that all reli­gious oblig­a­tions placed on Mus­lims while not being easy to ful­fill are all with­in reach of the aver­age believer.

In this sense, too, Islam by being more sim­ple is more sane.Endmark

Dr. Murad Wil­fried Hof­mann pre­sent­ed this paper at The Four­teenth Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence of the Roy­al Aal al-Bayt Insti­tute for Islam­ic Thought (Love in the Holy Qur’an), 4 – 7 Sep­tem­ber, 2007, Amman, The Hashemite King­dom of Jordan.

Bib­li­og­ra­phy

Holy Scripts

Quran Trans­la­tions

  • Le Saint Coran, King Fahd Com­plex : al-Mad­i­nah, KSA (n.d.)
  • Ali, Abdul­lah Yusuf, transl., The Mean­ing of the Holy Qur‘an, 8th ed, Amana Pub­li­ca­tion : Beltsville
  • MD Ansari, Zafar Ishaq, transl., Towards Under­stand­ing the Qur’an, Abridged ver­sion of Sayyid Abul A’la Maw­dudi’s Tafhim al-Qur’an, The Islam­ic Foun­da­tion : Mark­field, LE2006
  • Asad, Muham­mad, transl., The Mes­sage of the Qur’an, 2nd ec., The Book Foun­da­tion : Bit­ton, Bris­tol, UK 2003
  • Bew­ley, Abdal­haqq and Aisha, transl., The Noble Qur’an, Book­work : Nor­wich 1999
  • Max Hen­ning /​Murad Wil­fried Hof­mann, transl., Der Koran, 4th ed., Die-derichs : München 2005
  • Pick­thall, Mar­maduke (1930), transl., Cagri Yayin­lari : Istan­bul 2002

Chris­t­ian Script

  • Bibel, Die, Ger­man trans­la­tion, Nau­mann & Göbel : Cologne 1984
  • Book of Mor­mon, The, The Church of Jesus Christ of Lat­ter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1981
  • Holy Bible, The Gideons Inter­na­tion­al : Nashville, Ten­nessee 37214 (n.d.)
  • New Tes­ta­ment, The, Ver­bre­itung der Heili­gen Schrift : D‑6345 Eschen­burg 1 (n.d.)

Lit­er­a­ture

  • Abdou, Cheikh Mohammed, Rissalat al Tawhid, Paul Geuth­n­er : Paris 1925
  • Asad, Muham­mad, Islam at the Cross­roads, Sh. Muham­mad Ashraf : Lahore 1934
  • Ball, Hugo, Byzan­ti­nis­ches Chris­ten­tum, 2nd ed., Insel Verlag:Frankfurt 1979
  • Brun­ner-Traut, Emma, Die Kopten, DG 39, 4th ed., Diederichs Ver­lag : München 1993
  • Cer­ic, Mustafa, Roots of Syn­thet­ic The­ol­o­gy in Islam, I.I.I.T. (ISTAC): Kuala Lumpur 1995
  • Franziskus von Assisi, Works, Ger­man transl., 3rd ed., Werl 1963
  • Hoßfeld, Paul, Moses-Zarathus­tra- Bud­dha-Jesus-Mani-Mohammed, Bad Hon­nef (Ger­many): Hoßfeld Ver­lag 1974
  • Kant, Immanuel, Kri­tik der reinen Ver­nun­ft, Insel Ver­lag : Wies­baden 1956
  • Kirste, Rein­hard et al., pub­lish­ers, Die Dial­o­gis­che Kraft des Mys­tis­chen, Zim­mer-mann Ver­lag : Balve (Ger­many) 1998
  • Nagel, Tilman, Geschichte der islamis­chen The­olo­gie, C.H. Beck ; München 1994
  • Osman, Fatih, Con­cepts of the Qur’an — A Top­i­cal Read­ing, MVI Pub­li­ca­tions : Los Ange­les 1997
  • Rah­man, Fazlur, Islam, Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press : Chica­go 1966
  • Rumi, Jalal ad-Din, Mathnawi‑i ma´nawi, transl. by R. A. Nichol­son, 8 Vol., GMS : Lon­don 1925 – 1940
  • Sekre­tari­at der Deutschen Bischof­skon­ferenz, Chris­ten und Mus­lims in Deutsch­land, Bonn 2003
  • Schim­mel, Annemarie, Mys­tis­che Dimen­sio­nen des Islam, 3rd ed., Diederichs : Munich 1992
  • Swin­burn, Richard, The Exis­tence of God, Claren­don Press : Oxford 1979
  • Wittgen­stein, Lud­wig, anthol­o­gy, edit­ed by Thomas H. Macho, Eugen Diederichs Ver­lag : Munich 1996
Cite this arti­cle as : Murad Wil­fried Hof­mann, Dif­fer­ences Between The Mus­lim And Chris­t­ian Con­cepts Of Divine Love,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Sep­tem­ber 22, 2008, last accessed May 29, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​i​s​l​a​m​/​c​o​n​c​e​p​t​s​-​o​f​-​d​i​v​i​n​e​-​l​o​ve/

2 Comments

  1. No you are mis­tak­en Jerome.

    The Quran is the speech of Allah.

    And Chris­tian­i­ty is not more ambi­tious than Islam.

  2. You very well explained the dif­fer­ence between Chris­tians and Mus­lims from a moral stand­point, when you state we need lofty ideals to strive for, even if they are vir­tu­al­ly unat­tain­able” and that because they are unat­tain­able they will be vio­lat­ed”. How­ev­er, you are wrong when you say two things :

    1- It is hypocrisy : hypocrisy is defined as
    the claim or pre­tense of hold­ing beliefs, feel­ings, stan­dards, qual­i­ties, opin­ions, behav­iors, virtues, moti­va­tions, or oth­er char­ac­ter­is­tics that one does not in actu­al fact hold”. Because Chris­tians acknowl­edge that they do not — because they can­not — embrace all the moral that the reli­gion is try­ing to con­vey, there can­not be hypocrisy. There would be if, for exam­ple a Chris­t­ian pre­tend­ed to hold all of these virtues (but obvi­ous­ly none of them would ever pre­tend such a thing). That would be cyn­i­cal indeed. But it can nev­er be pre­cise­ly because Chris­tian­i­ty is hon­est with itself and its people.

    2- It pro­motes hypocrisy : why ? It is the oppo­site, Chris­tian­i­ty pro­motes acknowl­edge­ment of all real­i­ties, start­ing with the very fact that the moral it pro­motes is unachiev­able and that there are many path towards that moral. On the oppo­site, Islam asserts to Mus­lims that there is only one path to fol­low : this is WRONG. It just does so, as you say, to sound more achiev­able for the aver­age per­son on earth. 

    As such, Chris­tian­i­ty is gen­uine­ly more ambi­tious than Mus­lims (and this is implic­it in your arti­cle.…). Islam does not empow­er peo­ple, hence does not give them the flex­i­bil­i­ty need­ed to deal with a con­stant­ly chang­ing world, which calls for a con­stant reassess­ment of the ide­al path towards the goal one wants to achieve. For this very rea­son, the log­ic is reversed : Mus­lims want to pre­serve the world as it is/​was, because they can’t keep pace with the changes.

    All in all, both Chris­tians, Islam, Jews and reli­gions in gen­er­al are hyp­ocrites to their believ­ers as long as they pre­tend to reveal” the exis­tence of a God and claim the reli­gious moral is divine”: they sim­ply can’t prove it. They call for peo­ple to believe it, but at the same time, they ascer­tain that what they say is gen­uine­ly true. If at least every reli­gious text­book start­ed with Beware, we are not 100% sure that what is writ­ten in this book is true, you just have to believe it”, then they would no longer by hypocrisy.

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