In Chapter 3, Mr. Al-Kadhi attempts to: "...demonstrate that most of the practices of today's "Christianity" as well as most of its beliefs were only introduced into the religion as a regrettable outcome of an excessive undue willingness to compromise with the surrounding pagans in order to attain their support and conversion." It is true that some "traditions" practiced by some Christians originated in Pagan folklore and are not found anywhere in the Bible. It also very sad that Mr. Al-Kadhi, and many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, notice the splinter in the eyes of Christians while they ignore the beams in their own eyes. Did Muhammad really come to purge Pagan ideas from Christianity and Judaism as Mr. Al Kahdi suggested in his "Chart" at the beginning of his book?
There are many books and articles about the Pagan influences on Christianity, as well as on Islam and Judaism, and there are some interesting parallels. This was a popular topic of discussion at the turn of the century but has been largely discredited through careful research and better scholarship, and therefore disregarded in academic circles for reasons that will be discussed throughout this chapter. A major difference between the Pagan influences on Christianity, compared to the Pagan influences on Islam, is that the remnants of Pagan tradition in Christianity mentioned by Mr. Al-Kadhi (such as some cultural elements associated with the observance of Christmas) were not commanded in the Bible. The influence of Paganism on Islam is much more direct and disturbing. For example, the Pre-Islamic Pagan Arabs practiced the Pilgrimage to Mecca, fasted during the month of Ramadan, ran around the Ka'aba seven times, kissed the black stone, shaved their heads, practiced animal sacrifices, ran up and down two hills, threw stones at stone pillars that represented the devil, snorted water in and out their noses, prayed several times a day toward Mecca, gave alms, and said Friday prayers. The great translator and Koran scholar Yusuf Ali said "...the whole of the [pagan] pilgrimage was spiritualized in Islam..." (Yusuf Ali: fn. 223 pg. 80). Worst of all, Muhammad commanded his followers to participate in these pagan ceremonies while the pagans were still in control of Mecca (See Yusuf Ali, fn. 214, pg. 78) and told his followers to pray towards the Ka'aba, instead of towards Jerusalem, while the Ka'aba was full of 360 Pagan idols!
In fact, it was Muhammad who, at one point, attempted to compromise with Paganism! Sura 53:19 says 'Have you considered al Lat and al-Uzza and Manat the third other?' This passage was originally followed by the words 'Verily they are the exalted maidens and their intercession is to be hoped for'. The polytheistic Pagans of Mecca were delighted when Muhammad delivered this passage because it was a chant recited by the Quraish (tribe) as they circled the Ka'aba while worshipping these three principle goddess of pre-Islamic Mecca. This compromise also caused some companions to doubt Mohammed and leave his fold. The earliest authority on the life of Muhammad (Ibn Hisham) claimed that these words were uttered by Muhammad at the "instigation of Satan" and are considered to the be Satanic Verses (not to be confused with Salman Rushdies' book). When Muhammad realized that his attempt to appease the Pagan Meccans was causing his followers to leave, he quickly made a slight alteration and a major omission to this passage by dropping the sentence about the exalted maidens. To make matters worse, Gabriel allegedly came to Muhammad and denied that he had revealed the word to him. ('Sirat'ul Rasool' as revised by Ibn Hisham, (vs. 239), and Tabari pp. 1 192).
Continuing with Mr. Al-Kadhi's case against Christianity: "This was the same paganism Jesus (pbuh) fought so valiantly during his lifetime to destroy." In fact, Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies of numerous Old Testament Prophets, reform the Jewish faith, and redeem all of humanity through his sacrifice on the cross. Jesus did not fight the Pagans, in fact He was kind towards them and His love for them often inspired their faith (see Matthew 8:5-13). It is also very ironic, and extremely hypocritical that Al-Kadhi criticizes Pagan religions, yet he cites Hindu and Zoroastrian texts for prophecies concerning the coming of Muhammad!
Now Mr. Al-Kadhi sets out on the task of proving, with the help of "the writings of Christians themselves" that Christianity is full of Pagan ideas and practices. His first "Christian scholar" is T.W. Doane, a writer at the turn of the century who wrote extensively concerning the similarities between Christianity and Pagan cults. I will address some of these alleged similarities later in this chapter. As I said earlier, most of Doane's ideas, have been discredited and discarded through better research and scholarship. You can get an idea of T.W. Doane's thoughts on this site.
Mr. Al-Kadhi concludes: "The more knowledgeable a Christian becomes with today's "Christianity," the more they realize that it is the end result of a continuous effort to appease the pagan Romans in order to gain their support. This has regrettably resulted in the foisting upon Jesus (pbuh) and his apostles the pre-existent beliefs of ancient paganism." We will see if Mr. Al-Kadhi provides any proof for this claim in the remainder of this chapter.
Al-Kadhi simply cannot resist the temptation to throw out his rhetorical accusation of the corruption of the Bible, so he continues by saying: "The established beliefs of these pagans were "inserted" into the word of God and its religious practices through the agency of many centuries of divine "inspiration" to the Church. The knowledgeable Christian scholars are the most well-acquainted with this fact." Once again, Al-Kadhi makes this accusation without an iota of proof. Notice that the two following quotations say nothing of "insertion"!
According to Al-Kadhi, Saint Augustine (354-430 AD.), said: "The same thing which is now called CHRISTIAN RELIGION existed among the ancients. They have begun to call Christian the true religion which existed before." I have read most of Saint Augustine's works and have never, ever, seen this quote! As usual, Mr. Al-Kadhi does not give us a proper citation for us to check. In fact, you can find Saint Augustine's works on line in a searchable format.
Mr. Al-Kadhi then cites James Bonwick without telling us who he is or informing us of his credentials: "Our love for what is old, our reverence for what our fathers used, makes us keep still in the church, and on the very altar cloths, symbols which would excite the smile of an Oriental, and lead him to wonder why we send missionaries to his land, while cherishing his faith in ours".
The cross is a geometric design which is found in many cultures. The same is true of the Star of David as well as the crescent moon and star. Various cultures did indeed use these symbols, however, the meaning of these symbols varied across different cultures. The Romans did, in fact, execute people, in what is now Israel, by fastening them to wooden crosses and Jesus was put to death on a cross by the Roman authorities - these two statements are historical facts recorded by non Christian Roman historians. The fact that other cultures and religions had crosses, or cross-like designs, is completely irrelevant. It is true that the early Christians used the fish as a symbol and many Christians continue to use this symbol. Perhaps these early Christians were still traumatized by the horrible death that Jesus suffered on the cross.
Undaunted by the facts, Mr. Al-Kadhi's historical analysis continues: "Current historical knowledge recognizes the fact that the cross was well recognized as a religious symbol long before the advent of Jesus (pbuh). It was adored in India as the symbol of the Hindu god Agni, the "light of the world." It was placed in the hands of Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Tvashtri, and Jama. The cross was also well known among the Buddhists from ancient times and the followers of Lama of Thibet." This statement raises doubts, at least in my mind, concerning Al-Kadhi's knowledge of Hinduism. No statues or pictures of Hindu gods show them holding crosses. These deities are often pictured holding a variety of items. Krishna holds a flute, Kali holds a small arsenal of weapons, other deities hold flowers, a Conch shell, or sweets but no crosses! Shiva is often pictured holding a "Trishul", an object that we westerners would recognize as a trident. Perhaps Mr. Al-Kadhi is distorting the Swastika, a symbol that is auspicious to the Hindus and is a common motif in Hindu iconography and in Hindu temples, as a cross! He provides a similar misinterpretation of the Egyptian ankh.
Now Mr. Al-Kadhi turns his attention to one of his favorite gripes against Christianity: "Now let us study the "Trinity" and its roots in ancient pagan worship. The "Trinity" of Christendom, as defined in the creed of Nicea, is a merging of three distinct entities into one single entity, while remaining three distinct entities. We are told to speak of the three gods as one god, and never as three gods which would be considered heresy (Isaiah 43:10). They are considered to be co-eternal, co-substantial, and co-equal. However, only the first was self existent. The others preceded from the first. This Neo-Platonic philosophical doctrine has its roots not in the inspiration of God, but in ancient paganism. Most ancient religions were built upon some sort of threefold distinction. Deities were always trinities of some kind or consisted of successive emanation in threes."
Mr. Al-Kadhi proceeds to demonstrate his paucity of knowledge concerning Hinduism by telling us that "In India we find the doctrine of the divine trinity called "Tri-murti" (Three-forms) consisting of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. It is an inseparable unity though three in form. Worshipers are told to worship them as one deity. Such concepts posed no problem to the logic of a Hindu worshipper since they were already used to worshipping gods with the body of a man and the head of an elephant(Ganesh), or monkey-faced gods (Hanuman), or gods with six arms, and so forth. Remember, classical Hinduism dates back to at least 500BC, with roots extending as far back as 2000BC."
The Trimurti is a Hindu pantheon of gods which bears no resemblance to the Christian concept of the Trinity. First, this Hindu pantheon, assuming that it a proper pantheon, has changed considerably over the course of history. During the oldest period of Hindu history (Rig Veda or Vedic Period), the Hindu pantheon consisted of Agni, Ushas, and Indra, along with a number of other important gods and deities. After the Vedic Period (approximately 1000 B.C.), a new pantheon emerged during the Epic Period (400 B.C. - 400 A.D.) which included Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. These three gods are not a single god nor are they worshipped as a single god. For example, Brahma is of no use since he already created creation including the others gods. In all of the world, there is only one Hindu temple dedicated to Brahma. I visited this temple a few years ago in Pushkar in the state of Rajastan, India. Unlike every other temple in India and Nepal that I visited, this one was completely empty! The Christian Trinity consists of God, God's Word (Jesus) and God's Spirit (Holy Spirit) which are One God and work for one purpose. Unlike Shiva and Vishnu of the Trimurthi, the Trinity always existed and was never created. The Trimurthi is essentially a struggle between preservation and destruction, birth and rebirth. Judeo-Christian thought, in contrast, is teological, meaning that history is moving in a linear path, not circular, path according to the will of God.
Mr. Al-Kadhi proceeds to make one of the most bizarre claims in his entire book by saying that: "The Brahmas also have their trinity. In their trinity, Vajrapani, Manjusri, and Avalokitesvara form a divine union of three gods into one god called "Buddha." The citizens of China and Japan also worship Buddha, but they know him as "Fo." When they worship him they say "Fo, is one god but has three forms.""
Huh? Mr. Al-Kadhi, who are the "Brahmas"? The only "Brahmas that I have seen are a breed of cattle common in western Texas near the military base where I was once stationed! The Brahmins are the priestly caste of Hinduism and they are usually devoted to Shiva, Vishnu, or in some cases, Kali. Buddha is not considered a god by the Brahmins. In fact, Buddha's philosophy was actually a rejection of Brahminism! Mr. Al-Kadhi goes on to describe the pantheons of other Pagan religions and attempts, once again employing dubious scholarship (principally the works of T.W. Doane), to draw non-existent parallels between these pantheons and the Christian concept of the Trinity.
Mr. Al-Kadhi claims regarding the "`birthday of Jesus,' Christmas. Jesus (pbuh) is commonly considered to have been born on the 25th of December. However, it is common knowledge among Christian scholars that he was not born on this day."
Mr. Al-Kadhi spends a great amount of both time and effort cataloging the various Pagan religions which had festivals on, or around, the Winter Solstice and then impugns the celebration of Christmas as a compromise with Paganism. Most Christians realize that Jesus was not born on December 25, this is hardly news to the Christian world! The Bible does not command Christians to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, nor does it tell us to have a Christmas tree, an Advent Wreath, or egg nog. The Western Church simply decided to set December 25 aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus while the Eastern Church set January 7 as the date to celebrate Christ's birth. Perhaps this was done to compete against Pagan festivals that centered around the Winter Solstice. As a Christian, I believe that the days, all of the days, belong to God. Satan does not, and cannot, claim any day as his own. Therefore, when I celebrate Christmas, my mind and heart are focused on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and not on the Winter Solstice, Osiris, Thor, Horus, Krishna, or Buddha. Similarly, the Koran does not require that Muslims celebrate the birthday of Muhammad, although many do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our Muslim friends celebrating Muhammad's birthday although I am sure that some Pagan culture somewhere on this planet had a festival on that day which is completely irrelevant!
Mr. Al-Kadhi extends his unique brand of "scholarship" to study pre-Christian beliefs: "Let us have a brief look at the popular beliefs of the pagan Gentiles who would later take it upon themselves to spread "Jesus'" religion to the world:"
There are two versions of the myth of Attis. In the Phrygian version, Attis is killed by castration. Some accounts claim that his enemies castrated him while another account claims that he castrated himself. The older Lydian version of this tale claims that Attis was killed by a boar. Attis was not "resurrected" in either the Phrygian or the Lydian versions of this story.
There are two versions of this tale: the Panyasisian version and the Ovidian version. Neither claims that Adonis was "resurrected" from the dead. The late texts of this tale, which were greatly influenced or perhaps written by Christians, sets aside a day to celebrate Addonis for being "raised from the dead".
Tammuz (also known as Dumuzi) died according to legend and was not reborn. Later texts, which were also either influenced or written by Christians, linked Tammus with Adonis Historically, there was never a festival that celebrated the rebirth of Tammuz. The cult of Tammuz was mostly concerned with death, not life and rebirth.
Once again, Mr. Al-Kadhi overstates his case based on the evidence. Dionysos (Greek) and/or Bacchus (Roman) were the gods of wine Their cults were concerned with one activity: having large, loud parties that featured a lot of drinking. This cult became so rowdy that the Roman Senate restricted its membership and the number of "meetings" that they were permitted to hold in 186 BC. The cult had some the vague beliefs concerning renewal of life during the seasonal changes. There are no significant parallels between this cult and the beliefs of Christianity.
The story of Baal (who is also known as Hadad and Adad) contains absolutely no suggestion of death and resurrection or an annual cycle of death and rebirth. Baal simply disappeared and reappeared.
The story of Osiris is one of the few Pagan legends that remained relatively unchanged throughout history. Osiris was indeed murdered and his body dismembered and scattered. After his death the pieces of his body were recovered and Osiris was brought back to life. We must remember that Osiris did not return to live on the earth, he journeyed to the underworld, where he became the lord of the dead. Osiris did not rise from the dead as Jesus did.
The similarity between the Persian cult of Mithras and the Roman cult was only the name! There are many practices of the Roman Mithrians that were unknown to the older Persian cults. In the case of the Roman cults, they arrived too late in history to influence Christianity. The cult of Mithras went from Persia to the Roman world during the second and third centuries. The zenith of Mithraism occurred after the compilation of the New Testament. Additionally, no monuments of this cult can be dated earlier than 90 to 100 A.D..
I should begin my response by saying that most of the legends concerning Krisha's childhood appeared after the Gita was written. In fact, most of these legends originated in about 1000 A.D.. It is impossible for me to imagine that the followers of Jesus borrowed Hindu legends from the future! As usual, Mr. Al-Kadhi does not allow the facts to get in the way of his arguments! Was Devaki a virgin as Al-Kadhi contends? According to the story, Devaki already had six children! Krishna was number seven -a fact which suggests that she was not a virgin when she conceived Krishna. Did King Kansa order the slaying of all male infants born that night? According to legend only 6-7 infants were killed in the entire kingdom. The theme of a king murdering potential heirs to the throne is not unique to Christianity or Hinduism - it appears in both religious and secular history. Did Krishna ascend to heaven as Jesus ascended? First, Hindus do not have a concept similar to the Judeo-Christian idea of "Heaven" and Hindus do not believe that people can bodily 'ascend' anywhere after death. Krishna's alleged miracles are hardly suprising since this is a common theme among most faiths.
Mr. Doane has already been discussed earlier in this section. Mr. Al-Kadhi goes as far as implying that Buddha MAY have been a prophet. The problem with this argument is that Buddha espoused "ethical humanism" and not a belief in one God. The Buddhist Scriptures clearly disprove most of T.W. Doane's, and all of Mr. Al-Kadhi's, claims.
Mr. Al-Kadhi concludes: "Sadly enough, once all of this detailed evidence has been presented by Western scholars in support of the fact that all of these matters were acts of pagan worship and belief centuries before the coming of Jesus (pbuh), even with all of this, the adamant orthodox will ever manage to find a way out. "It is quite simple really," they will explain, "All of these countless pagan cults from all over the earth must have had prior knowledge of the coming of Jesus and inserted the story of his life into pagan mythology centuries before his actual arrival.""
No, that is not the explanation Mr. Al-Kadhi! Many of the "similarities" between Pagan religions and Christianity were the result of sloppy scholarship practiced at the turn of the century. Many writers applied Christian terminology to describe the practices of Pagan cults. For example, purification rituals were compared to Baptism. Sacred meals were compared to Communion. When Christian terms are used to describe non-Christian faiths, we should not be surprised to find similarities.
The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
Answering Islam Home Page