Friday, February 29, 2008

Muhammad: Prophet of God

Daniel C Peterson is a Mormon scholar in ancient near-eastern studies at BYU. He gives an inspired lecture series on the prophet Muhammad entitled "Understanding Islam: An LDS Perspective" in addition to his book "Muhammad: Prophet of God." This lecture and book give a wonderful LDS prospective on the Muslim faith in contrast to the current negative stereotypes perpetuated in the mainstream media.

Dr. Peterson references several early LDS church leaders starting with Joseph Smith who were complimentary of the teachings of Muhammad and categorized him with other inspired servants of God throughout history such as Martin Luther.

The Book and lectures provide a clear and concise description of the events surrounding the birth of the Muslim religion and then review the events that bring the religion to the present day. Muhammad was an honest man who recognized that the pagan religion of his day did not inspire sufficient virtue from the Arab people. Dr. Peterson recounts a secondary story of Muhammad's calling as prophet where he hears the voice of God three times and looks up after the third time into heaven and beholds a glorified anthropomorphic God sitting upon his thrown. It is then that Muhammad starts to receive the revelations that make up the Qur'an. LDS members will recognize the parallel of Muhammad's calling with the experience of the Nephites before the visitation of Jesus Christ in the New World.

The Second lecture by Dr. Peterson focuses on Islam today. Islam was at it's peak during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Islamic scholars were the source of all the great advances in mathematics, art, and philosophy during the middle ages. But, their mistake was to ignore the infidels of Western Europe. Vasco da Gama's bypassing the Middle Eastern Trade Routes by sailing from Europe to India via Africa marked the end of the Ottoman Empire's power. Islam has struggled to return to its prior greatness ever since.

Dr. Peterson asks us to put ourselves in the shoes of the Muslim people. Imagine if the LDS church was loosing membership. There are 4 major directions we could decide to take. We could do as the secularists do and say, "well I guess the LDS faith is wrong" and turn completely away from our faith. We could send our students to study with other successful groups and learn the skills and strategies that have made them successful. Or we could conclude that we need to recommit ourselves to the fundamental principles of our faith. Finally, we could do nothing and instead blame others for our failure. Today, we see all four of these directions being taken by some of the Arab and Muslim peoples.

Dr. Peterson summarizes the beliefs of Islam by referring to what are known as the 6 pillars of the Islamic Faith. He compares these to the LDS 13 Articles of Faith. The 6 pillars of Islam are: 1. Testimony 2. Prayer 3. Fasting 4. Charity (Zakat) 5. Pilgrimage (Hajj) 6. Enduring or Striving to the End (Jihad = internal struggle).

The 2 points that made an impact on me were #1 that the Qur'an teaches "There is no coersion in religion." When the Ottoman's conquered North Africa and Persia they did not force conversions at the point of the sword. Conversions happened slowly over decades and centuries. #2 Jihad more has to with the internal stuggle to follow the will of Allah and enduring or striving to the end and dying in the path or service of Allah then having to do with physical, literal holy war.


Anonymous said...

Howdy kids...

You do realize that the LDS would be considered 'polytheists' and once Muslims figure out there are major differences between the LDS theology & Islamic theology this 'interfaith' circle jerk will be done...

If ALL LDS people would spend the time to READ what Muslims put in thier websites & on youtube the LDS Leadership would drop the interfaith nonsence.

Pal SERIOUSLY do you think allah is the same god as Elohim? NOPE!

Mormons & Muslims can be friendly to each other but they shouldnt try to intermarry thier religions together.

Do yourself a favor read the quran & compare it to the BOM (Book of Mormon), DC (Docterines & Covenants), POGP (Pearl of great price), or better yet compare the quran Versus the Holy Bible & see hoe different the Islamic religion truely is to LDS Christianity or Christianity in general.

BRoz said...

Of coarse there are major differences between LDS and Islam. #1 they don't recognize the divinity of Jesus Christ and accept Him as The Source for Salvation and Redemption.

However, I think there is benefit to focus on the similarities and build on common ground like Ammon and King Lamoni in the BOM when he asked " Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: This is God."

I think building on common beliefs is more productive and compassionate way to come to a unity of the faith.

I don't find a problem with the premise that there may be a chance that Muhammad may have actually been inspired of God but the Quran in its present form and the Muslim tradition has obviously apostatized from the original truth.

Billy said...

First of all, the Ottoman's did not conquer North Africa, it was the arabs. They were already Muslim when the Ottomons finally became the governors. Secondly, there was certainly some forms of forced conversion.
Also the point of comparing the articles of faith to the pillars of Islam is...not at all accurate. The articles of faith are doctrine where as the pillars of faith are required actions.
I think that either the guy who blogged about this book did a bad job or else the book is not very good.
And the previous posts are also...seriously lacking in intelligence, knowledge and insight.

BRoz said...

Dear Billy,

#1 since North Africa was then part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Ottomans conducted naval battles with Portugal, Spain and France to win Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, and Morroco.

Please read:

#2 It is accepted by most historians that the Ottoman empire was generally tolerant of other faiths and communites of Jews, and Christians flurished in Muslim controlled territory.

Please see:

Or (quick summary)

#3 LDS don't have a problem relating doctrine (faith) with practice (works). So, that is why loosly equating the 6 pillars with the 13 articles of faith isn't a stretch with us.

#4 I consider your last comment an unfortunate example of projection.

Anonymous said...

hi guys, i am a muslim and was smiling reading the above statements untill i scrolled down and saw the comments from some. the comment made by Billy "there was certainly some forms of forced conversion" can you please give me authentic proof to back this statement thanks. id like to Thank BRoz who i can see is very tolerant towards other faiths, i have alot of respect for you. Thanks.