Below you will find:
First, a biography of Dr. Ali Viacheslav Polosin, a high ranking priest in the Russian Orthodox church who chose to convert to Islam,
Followed by a video of an interview with him and then a translation of an article her wrote about what lead him to embrace Islam and thus return to true Monotheism.
He was born in June 26th, 1956 in Moscow. In 1978, he graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Moscow State University majoring in "sociology", the subject of the scientific research: "Criticism of Max Weber’s theory of the "spirit of capitalism" (dealing with the influence of protestant reformation on the development of the market economy).
In 1980, he started to work for the Orthodox Church, his first position being a Reader. In 1983, he graduated from the Moscow Theological seminary, and was ordained as a deacon, and later a priest.
During 1983 - 1985, he served a priest in a number of Orthodox parishes in Central Asia; he was the head of a church in the town of Dushanbe, but was later deported from the region by the Soviet authorities for insubordination to the Communist authorities. Later he worked as a free-lance translator of theological literature at the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarch’s Office.
In June 1988, when the persecution of religion started to cease, he became a priest in a newly opened half-ruined church in the town of Obninsk in Kaluzhsky region. In 1990, he was promoted to become an arch-priest.
In January 1990, he was nominated by the "Narodny Front" of Obninsk as a candidate for the people’s Deputy of the Russian Federation representing Kaluzhsky Region. In March of the same year, he was elected a Deputy and a member of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation.
During 1990 - 1993, he was the chairman of the Committee of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation to the freedom of worship, member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation; the author of the Russian Federation law "On the freedom of religious beliefs" which was in force from 1990 to 1997; the author of various legislative initiatives and amendments which released believers from a number of restrictions of their civil and property rights, including the exemption from many of taxes.
In 1991 he was empowered to act for Boris Yeltsin at the elections of the President of the Russian Federation, elaborated the ceremony of the President inauguration (of the pattern of 1991).
In 1990 he took part in the establishment of the Russian Christian Democratic movement, member of its governing body till 1993.At the same time, he continued his studies and in 1993 graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in May 1993, he defended his thesis in political sciences, the subject of his research being "The Church and the State in the USSR in 1971 - 1991", received his MA degree in Political Science.
By 1991, he gave up church office on the grounds of the impossibility to combine his religious and parliamentary activities. After the Supreme Soviet had been dispersed in September 1993, he declined an offer to return to his activities as a priest; 1993 - 1995, he worked as a free-lance consultant of the Department of Internal Church Relations of the ROCh. He did not take part in the elections to the State Duma, from March 1994 to March 2000. He was the advisor of the State Duma Committee for Public Associations and Religious Organisations. In February 1999, he defended his Post-doctoral thesis in philosophy on "Dialectics of a Myth and Political Myth Creation" and obtained the equivalent of a PhD. He authored a number of articles on religious and political-religious issues.
In 1999 published his work "Myth. Religion. State" (440 p.) which deals with the influence of myth creation on the political development of society and of the advantages of Monotheistic ideology for the state building.
In May 1999, publicly announced his (and his wife’s) return to Monotheism, the religion of his fathers and forefathers, and embraced Islam.
After embracing Islam in 1999, he was elected co-chairman of ‘Refakh’, the Social and Political Muslim Movement. Editor-in chief of the "Muslim newspaper" (published since 1999). In 2003, he was elected as president of the UNION OF MUSLIM JOURNALISTS in Russia and he also serves as an advisor for the Council of Muftis of Russia.
Dr. Ali Viacheslav Polosin (Russian Orthodox Priest) explains why he embraced Islam .. Part 1 of 2
Dr. Ali Viacheslav Polosin (Russian Orthodox Priest) explains why he embraced Islam .. Part 2 of 2
How I returned to Monotheism
by Dr. Ali Viacheslav Polosin
Although I grew up in a non-religious family, still from as early as I can remember I deeply believed in God, yet unknown to me, Omnipotent and always ready to give His hand to those who seek his guidance. In my youth years, when faced with a predicament and my own powers failed, I turned to God in my heart and the situation changed for the better.
It came naturally, therefore, that to learn the truth about God I made a decision to join the Department of Philosophy at the Moscow State University. It was there that I first read the Bible. It left me with a contradicting impression: some texts seemed genuinely inspired by God, while others attributed God with a desire to destroy the majority of the humankind and were abundant in such strange notions as God’s “hand”, “body”, “flesh and blood”.
But in the 1970s in Moscow the Russian Orthodox Church was the only real alternative to the Communist ideology. So when I first came to the Orthodox cathedral at the age of 19, I discovered an ancient tradition and the beauty of the Christian hymns, which praised the Lord, and I decided to get a deeper theological knowledge. To this end I later entered the Seminary. It was not an act of conscious choice of one specific religion over another, as I didn’t have a chance to compare Orthodoxy with any other religion. Rather, it was a pronounced definite decision against the false concept of denial of God, as I joined the only religious organization that was available at the moment.
Having learned the fundamentals of Christian theology, I became a priest in 1983. At the moment my benefice symbolized the spiritual and intellectual struggle against the absence of God, and I felt I was a warrior of the Lord. But unfortunately, when my real service began, I was faced with carrying out the rituals ordered by largely superstitious people rather than with fulfillment of my spiritual and intellectual tasks. Even as I was fully aware of the fact that those rituals were not any different in meaning from pagan chanting, I could not avoid them, as they had become an integral part of the Christian religious practice. This situation brought about an intrinsic opposition between personal faith and public duty.
In 1983-1985 I worked as a priest in Central Asia. It was there that I first met Muslim people and began to feel the propensity towards the Word of Islam. Once an elderly Tajik of noble appearance came to my church. People believed he was really a secret sheikh. After a brief conversation he suddenly said to me: “You have Muslim eyes, you are destined to become a Muslim”. This seemingly controversial statement, made in an Orthodox cathedral to an Orthodox priest, did not provoke my resistance. Moreover, his words were imprinted on my mind.
In 1988-1990 the struggle against atheism became a matter of the past. The Orthodox Church, however, became more inclined to prefer building new premises and carrying out the more profitable ordinances to the educational mission or the drive against superstitions. No longer did I feel like the warrior for God, I felt rather like an official magician, solely expected to fulfill magic ceremonies and chants. This made me step outside the clerical staff in 1991.
In order to find a theological explanation that would endow the church rituals with the true faith, I turned to studying the early Christian sources: the history of Church, the history of church services, the history of theology. The profound study of theology and the Christian primary sources made me cast doubt on the true character of the Roman-Byzantine church services, as they contained all too many borrowings from the pagan worship of the past. This realization came to me in 1995, and made me quit the church services even outside the clerical staff. Still, the belief in the theantropic nature of Christ prevented me from understanding a simple and clear principle of the One and Only God.
At that time I did not know the true word of Islam, as Krachkovskij’s Russian translation of the Quran all but obscured the meaning of Divine Revelation. When I first read the periphrastic translation of the Holy Quran, made by V. Porokhovaya, with a commentary to the text of the Quran and the Islamic teaching about Jesus (let peace be upon him!), my last reservations about accepting the word of Islam vanished. Allah, Almighty and Most Merciful gave me strength to go on, and my spouse and I made a decision to publicly profess our return to the true faith in the One and Only God. Every human being is born into true faith; the choice of Judaism, Christianity or heathenism is predetermined by the individual’s upbringing.
Hereby I would like to commit to paper the thoughts that helped me reject idolatry and profess love and worship of the One and Only God, without associates.
Christianity and the Heathen Cults
The Christians of the first two centuries disregarded the ancient mysteria as the “Satanist staging”. They did not worship the image of the Holy Cross (they had the fish as their symbol) and condemned any attempts to endow God with associates, such as the Theodorite’s doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The early Christian forms of worship were deeply rooted in the Jewish celebration of Sabbath and can be compared with Mohammedan prayer. During their meetings, the worshippers commemorated historic events, sang psalms and professed morality.
Most of what we now know as the Christian cult in reality clearly originated in the heathen worship. It was in the IV century that these traditions were declared “Christian”, with the political aim to unify numerous people of the Empire under the rule of Emperor, the single “emissary of Christ”. Thus, Paisius Ligarid, the Metropolitan of Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarchy, in his speech at the Russian Orthodox Church assembly in 1666 in Moscow expressed the clerical view on the Czar’s position: “Both in Rome and in Egypt, the emperor enjoyed both ecclesiastical and governing powers. Due to these, as well as other causes, the emperor shall be called after God. That means that you, godlike Alexei Mikhailovich, also have the right to be called after God”.
Thereby the Orthodox priest, whose views were bolstered by the clerical assembly, acknowledged the profound intrinsic similarity between the Orthodox doctrine that viewed the Czar as the “Lord’s anointed” monarch and the old Eastern despotic mythology. The patriarch was able to see the identity of the Christian Czar and the Pharaoh of the Ancient Egypt. The Medieval political system, based on the Judaic-Christian doctrine of the New Testament sought to help the leader enjoy the absolute political power over his people. Dostoyevsky brilliantly revealed this political side of Christianity in his legend of the Great Inquisitor. The Great Inquisitor regarded the fact that Jesus only professed spiritual freedom and refused to accept Caesar’s power as a flaw in the Early Christian doctrine. This “flaw” of the Early Christianity was successfully corrected in the 4th century.
The Church, which had previously rejected the heathen mysteria, now implemented them within the framework of the Christian cult. The process essentially involved a mere substitution of the pagan gods’ names in accordance with the New Testament. The magical and conjuring nature of the mysteria, however, managed to survive the name change. As the ancient myths go, both Egyptian Osiris and the Persian god-man Mytra were born approximately on the day of winter solstice (December 25th) and Mytra was born in a cave, among wild animals. The Roman Empire saw magnificent celebrations of these gods’ nativity. The origins of the Russian word for Christmas carols, “kolyada”, can be traced back to the early Slavic cult of Kolyada, the savior god. In 4th century the Roman emperor chose Christianity for public purposes and, seeking to oust the popular feast of Mytra, nominated December, 25 the day of Christmas, although this date had never been celebrated by the Early Christian Church.
The divine sacraments of Jesus’ birth, suffering, death and bodily resurrection, established by the Christians of the Roman Empire were not only identical to the pagan mysteria but also aimed at incorporating the heathen mythology and cults in order to redirect the army of believers under the command of the new, Christian clergy. The priesthood, in turn, established the cult of the Emperor, who was now not merely worshipped alongside with other gods, but was endowed with the power of the world Savior, the representation and emissary of the chief Rabbi and the “king of the Jews”.
The ways of worshiping Osiris in Egypt, Ortheus in Greece, Attis and Mytra in Rome, and Zoroastre in Persia, as well as many other heathen cults, invariably follow one pattern: the miraculous birth from the virgin -> suffering for people and death -> descent into Inferno -> resurrection and the ascension. The heathen priests would ritually reproduce the mythological pattern, watched by the multitudes of worshippers: they would head the religious procession chanting “Attis has come from the dead” or “Osiris has come from the dead”. In addition they would administer communion with the blood of their god, which took form of wine (Greece), bull’s blood (Rome) or a red wheat drink (Egypt). They believed the ritual would allow the worshippers to overrule the laws of nature. A thousand years before the word of Christ an ancient Egyptian would utter a prayer:
Oh, ye holy spirits!
Communion by divine body and blood is characteristic of the majority of the early religions. In the course of time, cruel naturalism gave way to more humane expressions: the primitive tribes might have had a substitutional human sacrifice, which was later replaced by the animal-killing ritual.
Gradually the animal’s blood was replaced with wine and bread became the symbol of the sacrificial body. In the book of Zoroastre Mytra, the godly embodiment, instructs his disciples: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall abide? In me, and I shall remain in him.” This sacred formula of the single most popular religion of Rome obviously deeply impressed the Christian authors of the New Testament.
The general structure of the ancient myths, as well as the texts of some prayers, were incorporated into the Christian doctrine and remained largely intact. It was quite common in Rome, that images of Egyptian Isis, who was usually portrayed as a mother carrying a child, were sometimes worshiped by the early Christians, who were not inclined to see any profound differences between an Egyptian goddess and Jewish Miriam. The fourth century saw the revival of the ancient sacrament of communion by divine blood, symbolically substituted with red wine. It should be noted, however, that even in the heathen world this ritual was not so readily accepted, as it was in the new Christian church. Thus, Cicero noted: “When we call bread by the name of Cerera and wine by Bachus, we use nothing but common figures of speech. Or else does it really occur to you that there exists a man, who would truly believe in his insanity that the food he consumes is the body of god?”
Medieval Church also revived the long-forgotten ritual of praying to the spirits of dead people, imploring them to reverse the natural laws of existence. In its essence, this ritual turns the spirit of a dead person into a being that is able to willingly change the order of the universe, thereby equaling to heathen understanding of the divine creature. Simple logic reveals an obvious paradox: how can he change the universal order, he who had never created it and never had the power over it? And furthermore, if it is the Omniscient Creator who makes changes to the world as though at the plea of the soliciting ghost, why cannot we address Him directly? What is the reasoning behind regarding Almighty Creator as similar in His judgement to a human leader whose decisions are dictated by a group of the chosen ones, or saints, rather than justice?! This idea either stipulates disbelief of the Lord’s Omnipotence, or, worse still, blasphemously denies His actions to bear the justice that He Himself had granted in His Revelation.
The following ritual, for instance, had survived in the rural Russia until as recently as the beginning of the twentieth century: the official Church, unable to eliminate the heathen worship of the cattle-protecting god, Velesh, had substituted it for the cult of a Greek saint, Vlasiy. In reality, however, the practice of worship remained the old way. On the day that had been originally allotted to prayers to Velesh, the head of the family, in an echo to the ritual of Velesh, would give his cattle consecrated water wearing a goatskin inside out.
Do they indeed ascribe
Why didn’t the texts of New Testament which were based on the teaching of the great apostle of the One and Only God, prevent the restoration of heathenism? Is the evangelical text really a revealed Word of God? What shall we CALL a Divine Revelation? Do the Christians have Revelation?
The answers to these questions constitute the second major step towards the conscious choice of religious position.
Allah, the Moslem name of the Lord, is formed with the use of the Arabic definite article “al”, which emphasizes the concept of uniqueness and the Arabic “illah”, which stands for God. In Russian, analogue of the word Allah, therefore, is the word combination “Single God” (One and Only God). Hereinafter we shall use the terms “Allah”, “God” and “Single God” as identical.
In accordance with the faith of Abraham (peace be upon him), God is unique and unattainable to His creations, unless He Himself wills otherwise. The knowledge which the Almighty Himself decided to reveal to humankind is available to us through mediation of Holy spirits and prophets, the apostles of God. Lord Almighty is the subject of Revelation, with man as the instrumental medium of fulfillment of His will.
The prophet does not have a predetermined knowledge of the subject of Revelation, but gains it from the Word of God. The Lord’s Revelation is marked with formal signs: prior to conveying the Word of God the prophet says: “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, go forth and tell your people the following…”. That is the way of conveying the Revelation, characteristic of both the prophets of Israel and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). This Revelation may be accepted or rejected, but never altered at man’s discretion, as in that case, it ceases to be the Word of the Lord and becomes the word of this world, and, if distorted, may turn into heresy. The Holy Quran invariably follows the “Go tell them” pattern, and no one has the right to amend the Revelation at any time.
The sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, however, have undergone some important changes. The Old Testament incorporated the contradicting historical chronicles, the books of dubious origin, as well as the books that had only survived in translated version. Many books of the prophets have undergone some textual changes, often affecting the meaning.
As for Christianity, one would notice that there exists only fragmental data about the life of Jesus, and that his sermons were only put on paper after several decades of being part of the verbal tradition. The clericals of the 3rd and 4th centuries, apparently looking down upon the prophets, carried out a selective evaluation of the ancient texts. Some of the books were expurgated about 200 years after being written, while others were randomly incorporated into what we now know as the New Testament. The final version of the New Testament was approved no sooner than the year 692, at the Trulle Clerical Assembly. Not only did most of its corpus consist of the interpreted sermons of Christ, but also the sermons of his disciples, as well as the teachings of Paul, who persecuted early Christians and never even saw Jesus. These texts lack the prophetic formula, “Tell them” moreover, quite the reverse is true.
Thus, for instance, the canonized sinodal Russian translation of St. Luke’s gospel starts with the following words: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the world: It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilius, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed" (St. Luke, 1:1-4).
This extract clearly shows that the good tiding’s (evangelion) subject is not the Lord, but man, who is not even an immediate witness to Christ’s sermons. The gospel’s aim also seems to be quite natural, - it “seemed good” to the author to strengthen his disciple’s knowledge of the subject. The word combination “delivered them onto us” clearly shows the ways of passing the Gospel in spoken tradition. The closing statement of St. John’s Gospel, the origins of which have raised much argument between contemporary scholars, goes: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written everyone, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (St. John. 21:25). This final message reveals the true subject of the gospel. It is man who chooses the information to be made public and in the meantime acknowledges the fact that he has deliberately abridged the huge corpus of information about Jesus that he had learnt.
Likewise, in his first epistle to Corinthians St. Paul refers to either his own will, or the will of the Lord (Jesus Christ): "But I speak this by permission and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself "(1 Corinthians, 7:6). "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, <…>But to the rest speak I, not the Lord. Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgement" (7:25) etc.
Judging from the position of the believer in the One and Only Almighty God, all that is said on behalf of a man, however noble and respected, should be distinguished from the Lord’s Revelation proper, and incorporated into the body of edifying, theological and philosophical works, rather than in the Bible. If the Christians truly consider the New Testament to be God’s Revelation, they probably should have placed the extracts where the apostle acknowledges that he is not delivering the Lords commandment, or even the teachings of Jesus (let peace be upon him!), outside the realms of Divine Revelation. They should publish these extracts separately as the testimonies of the pious men.
The sheer fact that the Christian scholars did not do it testifies to the effect that the whole corpus of the New Testament should be perceived as a testimony of events, rather than a Book of Revelation. And if the reference to the words of Jesus (let peace be upon him!) contains merely a reconstruction of his sermon, rather than a direct quotation, - such reference constitutes a first-hand account of Jesus, but should not be perceived as Christ’s revelation of God’s will. The Christian New Testament, therefore, contains merely the recurrent interpretations of Israeli prophets’ books and does not offer a Revelation beyond the scope of the Old Testament tradition! The proper formation of the Christian religion was a gradual process that took place in 2-4th centuries; Christian institutions were formed during the 4-5th centuries by the efforts of the Roman emperors and the priestly class, without the new prophets or new prophetical Revelation.
So where is the Lord’s Revelation, on which the apostles should have commentated, rather than substitute for their own thoughts? Jesus Christ (let peace be upon him!) did not leave a book of Revelation saying “God commanded me to tell you this” followed by a text that would allow for no changes or amendments. No Christian book has such words. So if we truly believe in the Almighty God, we should acknowledge that if He would grant us with a Revelation of the New Testament, His will, as any will of the Almighty, would undoubtedly be fulfilled and protected from any amendments.
Moreover, in many instances Jesus (let peace be upon him!) forbade his disciples to tell about him, while the disciples said that should all he said be written down, many books would not suffice for this purpose. Jesus of the New Testament constantly reiterates that he was only sent to Jews; for instance, when asked to heal a Canaanite woman, He replies: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel <…> It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs” (St. Matthew; 15; 24-28). In the gospels, there is no mentioning of heathens joining in the group of Christ’s disciples. This is just the Church interpretation, which is disproved by the Book of Acts (10, 11:1-19), where Apostle Peter, 17 years after Christ’s Ascension, converts a heathen Cornilius, - much to everyone’s surprise! As a result, Peter invokes his authority as an apostle by mentioning of a recent omen, to convince the other apostles of necessity to convert other heathens, too. Should Jesus really have told his disciples to convert non-Jews, why wouldn’t they have been doing this for 17 years? Why did they seek reassurance in the new miracles and omens and not in references to their master’s direct orders?
In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus unveils God’s reasons to postpone the new Revelation: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that he shall speak: and he shall shew you things to come (St. John, 16; 12-13). “ But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (St. John, XIV: 26).
Is it anything, but a convincing evidence of the fact that Jesus Christ, by the name of God stated that the true essence of his prophecies should not have as yet taken the form of a written book of Revelation? Even his Jewish disciples could not as yet “bear” the whole Truth; the Truth that had to be revealed to all the people of the world, who were for the time being unprepared to accept the One and Only God! Hence, the Lord announced that the holy spirit will later reveal what he heard from God, and that is when the teachings of the great prophets, - Abraham, Moses and Jesus (let peace be with them!) will be available to everyone.
To teach and bring remembrance of the Word of the Almighty God, the Holy Spirit needed another medium; another prophet, endowed by God to convey His Word. We, guided by the Holy Quran, came to the understanding that this Prophet was Muhammad, and Jibrael (Gabriel) was the spirit sent to him to convey the Word of God.
It became obvious to me that the Christian tradition did not provide me with a book that I could firmly accept as given by God’s will by God through His mediator, who proved these very Words to be the Words of God. What I have instead – the numerous apocrypha and sermons of the 1st century, which some 200 or 300 years later were in parts pronounced sacred, and partially disregarded as non-canonical by some people, who were not prophets and consequently did not have the right to draw such a distinction. Moreover, the same people would incorporate into this code some additional chronicles and narrations of unknown origin, as well as the new insertions into the existing text.
For instance, as recently as the 16th century, someone’s impertinent hand added a new verse to the 5th chapter of John’s First epistle. The new verse, “For there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the Word and the Father, and these three are one”, was apparently introduced to negate the Protestant position. The verse was later incorporated into both the Greek and the Slavic editions of the New Testament. Should this verse also be considered as a part of God’s Revelation? The contemporary Christian scholars argue that some authors of the 3rd century quoted this phrase as being a lost part of St. John’s Gospel. But this justification can only strengthen one’s inclination to question the authenticity of all New Testament texts, as they allow for deliberate manipulation on the part of the clerics who were not given a Divine prophetic mission.
So, it became obvious that the New Testament can only be viewed as a moralistic and edifying reading, the Good Book, and not the prophetic manifestation of God’s Word. But even the edifying value of this reading has raised many questions. In the absence of new prophetic Revelation, the higher clerical hierarchy became more of a self-proclaimed constantly operating collective prophet, - an oracle which enables the priests to interpret and even amend any given text. The text became a symbolic instrument for safeguarding the privileges of a selfish priestly class. When the corporate interests of the priesthood contradicted the ancient text, the priests would introduce new interpretations, which were often misconstruing the meaning of the original. Needless to say, these new interpretations were safeguarded with the threat of excommunication, torture or execution.
For instance, Jesus expressly forbids to address anyone as one’s father: “ And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (St. Matt. XXIII: 9). The meaning is clear: it is a direct order, not a vague parable. And yet in the Roman – Byzantine Church traditional address for a priest is “Father”, “Holy Father”, “Reverend Father” or “Holiest Father”, and some members of higher order of clergy should be called “my lord”. Jesus admonishes his followers: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathens do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (St. Matt. 6:7-8). What we have here is another simple and clear command, but think of the hours and hours of the Christian Mass, think about all these mediators between God and the worshipers, who apparently think that their Heavenly Father knows not what things they have need of!
Where should one seek God’s Truth, unaltered by men for their own, albeit good, purposes? Can the work of a group of 300 honored theologists be a substitute for the true Revelation, granted by the Almighty God to just one prophet?
Is it possible to draw a clear distinction between the realm of God and the realm of the Medieval Inquisition in the Gospels?
For them was entrusted
This is the Word of God, and it reveals that the fragmental texts of the old Judaic – Christian school do contain the Holy Truth, announced by God through Jesus Christ (let peace be upon him!), and this Truth shall be sacred to us. But the Christian sources also contain human – added material. This fact was proved even by Christ’s disciples. We, the Muslims, do believe in the prophetic nature of Jesus Christ, and those words of his that he pronounced as the prophet and the messenger of God are veritable to us. But to consider these words to be the Words of God we need to be certain that Christ’s teachings and seers in modern Christian interpretation were actually his words and not a recent invention. Unfortunately, we cannot state it with certainty.
In his poetic cycle, “West-Цstricher Divan”, Goethe expressed this lack of certainty
When I first opened the book of the Holy Quran, I saw the “Tell them…” formula and read the words announcing the Will of the Almighty, the words that had never been altered, and I realized that these were the Words of the Almighty God Himself. God is the sole author of the Quran, with Muhammad as his Messenger. The Almighty needs no human body, nor the bird’s wings, nor the dubious omens or the crying effigies of His saints. Neither does He need His Words to be altered and edited by his creatures, or any forms of Incarnation, for He is Almighty; all things or beings we can think of are His creatures, He has the power to make His Will known to His people and choose the time, place and form, as well as the Messenger for His Revelation. As for those who reject the Word of Islam and come up with every possible accusation and speculation, the Lord Himself said about them:
Do they not consider
The Holy Book of the Quran, characterized by the solemn and unambiguous logic, marvelously going hand in hand with the exquisite poetical sublimity and the Truth that no mortal could render, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!), who was not educated in science or literature. The Word of God is unambiguous, and has never undergone any changes. It brings to our memory and explains the words of Jesus and other prophets before him (let peace be upon them!). It announces unto the world the social doctrine, which is based on the idea of the One and Only God, and expands this doctrine to all possible levels, from the family and everyday duties, to the governing of the state.
Having read the Book, I realized that the Quran is the true Christian Revelation, long ago foretold by Jesus.
As compared to the Quran, the Bible’s translation from Hebrew and Greek into Slavonic and Russian contains a lot more discrepancies, inaccuracies and even outright distortions of the original meaning. For instance, the Russian edition of the New Testament uses one and the same Russian word, “obraz” (image) for five Greek terms, different in shades of meaning: “icon”, “idolon”, “typos”, “morphy” and “skhima”. The majority of the believers does not have a theological education and is not concerned with the shades of meaning. Only few people have the opportunity to devote their time and effort to reading the Greek text, and even less can read the original in Hebrew. Most readers are quite satisfied with the readily available content of translation, which may be misleading.
Faith in Jesus
The extension of worship of Christ (let peace be upon him!) as a righteous Rabbi, prophet and the spiritual savior (“Moshiah”, or “Messiah” in Hebrew, “Masih” in Arabic and “Christ” in Greek) of the faithful sons of House of Israel, to the concept of Incarnation of God is based upon several dogmatic interpretations of the New Testament. These dogmas were safeguarded by the penalty of death and torture that would fall upon the head of anyone who would dare to doubt them.
Firstly, the fact that throughout the text of New Testament, Christ is called “the son of God”, was interpreted as his being consubstantial to his Father, and therefore is God himself. However, in Hebrew “the sons of God” was a common nomination of the angels (see the Book of Job, 38:7, where the “sons of God” rejoiced when God created the world: that is before the creation of man). Angels are spiritual beings, and therefore one can not say that Jesus was actually born of God. Obviously, this is just an idiom of the ancient language, alongside with “the hand of God”, which stands for “the power of God”. Moreover, the Gospel according to St. Mark gives a direct definition of the word combination “the children of God”: everyone who has “received God” is “born of God” and therefore is a “son of God”.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (S. John: I).
Everyone who obeys the will of God, and devotes himself to God becomes the “son of God” and a “relative” to Jesus:
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother (S. Matt XII:).
My mother and my brethren are those which hear the word of God, and do it (S. Luke, 8:20). This definition of the concept of “Children of God” belongs to Jesus Christ (peace be upon him!)
Moreover, the New Testament stipulates that the ultimate goal of Christ’s mission is to turn all people into “the sons of God”. The Epistle to Ephesians runs as follows: ”Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. <...> Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Eph, I: 3-5).
It would be unthinkable to suppose that this verse stipulates that all people are identical to the One who created them! Consequently, even the altered version of the New Testament reveals the allegorical nature of the words “born of God”, the spiritual figurative meaning of this allegory is being based on the obedience of the son to his father and the son’s acceptance of his father’s will. Hence, the Evangelical words about Jesus, “the son of God and the son of man” mean that he has accepted God as his spiritual Father, devoted himself to God. In other words, we see the angel by spirit in the body of man. Nevertheless, an angel is in no way comparable to God, for God created him, just as He created a man.
The Muslims do not doubt that Jesus (let peace be upon him!) had a righteous soul of an angel. Alongside with Abraham and Moses, Jesus is one of the greatest prophets, who “devoted himself to God”, which would be “Muslim” in Arabic, The example he set should be followed by every man of every nation of the world, and that is what Muhammad (peace be upon him!) taught, too.
It is interesting to note that the word combinations “the son of God” and “the son of man” in the Greek original were spelled with no capital letters. The word “son” was capitalized in Medieval times by the people who apparently disregarded the will of the apostles, and thought they had the right to alter what they themselves called a Revelation. When the letter is capitalized, the meaning of the word dramatically changes: consider the word “light”. If capitalized, it would acquire the additional meaning of being attributed to God the semantic content of the word would change. Consequently, saying that Jesus (peace be upon him!) was the “son of God” can in no way support the view that he was comparable, or identical to God. Apparently, the medieval scholars understood it all too well and changed the spelling in an impertinent distortion of the original.
Starting from the fifth century, the Christians, who proclaimed Jesus to be God, have been arguing that Christ was “born before the foundation of the world”. The aforesaid extract from the Epistle to Ephesians can disprove these arguments: all people are chosen and pre-destined for “adoption” exactly “before the foundation of the world”.
Secondly, the Christians refer to Christ’s words: ”I and my Father are one” (St. John, I, 30). However, judging from the context, one would understand that these words only mean the unity of the final goal rather than the unity of nature or the unity of the will. Christ voluntarily and completely submits his will to the Will of God.
Jesus says in his prayer: ”That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us" (St. John, 17:30). Obviously, these words about the unity of all apostles and even all believers are not meant to tell us that they will all become one subject, one man! Jesus said: “...He that believeth in me, believeth not in me, but in Him that sent me" (St. John 12:44). Throughout the New Testament the idea that Jesus was sent by God to save people is constantly reiterated. So one question arises: how can He Who commanded and the messenger, Who is “doing His will” be one and the same being?
If God expressed His Will to Jesus, it would mean that their will is separate. Jesus said: “...Because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (St. John, 5:30), and in Gethsemany, he addresses God: ”Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done" (St. Luke, 22:42). And the last words of Jesus, according to the Scripture, were: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “(St. Matt, 27:46) and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (St.Luke, 23:46), - do not lay any basis for speculations that Jesus and God are one and the same being. It is interesting to note that in Arabic the word “commend” would sound as “Islam”. And could it be that someone would speculate that in God there are different levels of omnipotence on the basis of Christ’s words: “ …for my Father is greater than I am” (John, 14:28)?
Apostle Paul has clearly outlined Christ’s subordination to the One and Only Creator: “…The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor, 11:3). When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the son also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God be all in all (1 Cor, 15:28). The medieval priests, unable to find a sound basis for their doctrine in the original texts, some 400 years after the time of the Gospels and Epistles came up with a new doctrine of the “one nature of God in three hypostasis”. The Greek word “hypostasis” can be translated as a “being” or “identity”. But, most importantly, all these terms are abstract, and therefore the distinction between ”nature”, “being”, or “identity” can only be drawn mentally, in order to facilitate cognitive processes. In reality, no subject can exist separately from it’s “being”, “nature” or “identity”.
The principle of manipulating with such abstract notions was characteristic of Greek sophists. We could compare this problem with their famous paradox, where the question “Is it possible to drink all water of the sea” is answered: “ It is possible after separating the sea water from the water of the rivers that feed into it”. Likewise, the notion of “essence of God”, being artificially separated from the notion of “personality of God” loses its power.
To learn the machinery of this typical Greek sophism, it is necessary to consider the simple notion of the “subject” (an independently acting being). Faith in One and Only God signifies having faith in one subject of the action, and the Jews and the Muslims support the same view. It is quite logical that the Father, the son and the holy spirit of the New Testament, written by monotheistic Jews, are three separate subjects acting together, with Jesus and the spirit constantly obeying the Will of God! That is why the heathen priestly class, that had for centuries played the unlikely role of the emissaries of the heathen gods, had to look for the standard formula, in order for the priests to keep their godlike status in the superstitious mass-mind. To this end, during the course of the fourth and the fifth centuries, the priests had tailored the Christian monotheism to meet their needs: now the separate subjects of action were united in one many-sided subject; God was given several faces, three in the case of Trinity.
God’s many-sidedness was a common practice in all the early religions. In this case, the priests needed to identify “the son of God” and the spirit with God Himself, that is to introduce “the associates of God”. Once it was done, the priests were enabled to proclaim themselves the successors of the “son of God” and the bearers of his spirit; that is to say, to become a collective incarnation of God, a collective body that rules this world on behalf of the Deity. According to Christian terminology, the priests proclaimed themselves the Church, the God-humanity. And that is how the Trinity doctrine came to life; the Church was now viewed as the “body of Christ, our Lord”, and the sacrament of communion with the “body of Christ” became an essential and mandatory ritual of the orthodox Christian Church.
The worshippers believe that the ritual of Communion expiates their sins; that they actually become connected with God, that they become a part of the Deity. Such a complex pyramidal structure, apart from playing a mystical role, fulfills another, and quite earthly goal. Taking part in the sacrament of communion, the person is either willingly, or unwillingly, made to consent to his lowest position in the cosmological hierarchy, with the highest members of the clergy, the “godly governors” and the “holy priests”, automatically being placed beyond any control and any responsibility for their actions.
In order to find yet another way to secure the idea of the exceptional and irreplaceable role of the priestly class, the Church authorities established an obligatory dogma of the “original sin”: “the sin of Adam” which is inherent in the nature every living person, irrespective of his or her personal qualities. The only way to expiate the “original sin” is to undergo the ritual of joining the hierarchical pyramid, that is the ritual of communion, carried out exclusively by the members of this hierarchy!
All these philosophical and sophistical arguments constitute a striking contrast to the clarity and simplicity of apostle’s words ”For there is one God and one mediator between God and the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim, II: 5). The mediator here is the messenger of God, the man who “does the Will” of God.
While the theory proclaiming Christ as a FACE of God can, in principle, be explained, - the doctrine of the Divine nature of the holy spirit can hardly find any explanation. According to the Church’s own view, the holy spirit is incorporeal and acts as the energy, or the power of God, rather than being an independently recognizable entity. This problem is immaterial for those who believe in the One and Only God. They do not ascribe Him with any associates or deify the holy spirit, as they recognize the independently acting holy spirit is an angel of God, and the energetically acting spirit as the action of God in the process of realization of His will.
The doctrine of separate existence of God’s essence and His independent realizations (hypostasis) became an indisputable dogma in the IV century. Alongside with other ecclesiastical doctrines, it was safeguarded by the fear of excommunication, torture, and the fires of Inquisition, rather than by the belief in the Revelation of the Word of God. The Trinity dogma comes into conflict with another Christian doctrine of the unknowable nature of God, as it presupposes the knowledge of the correlation of the hypostasis to its nature. Any attempt to rationally conceive of the nature of God and ascribe the dialectic unity to its realizations seems to deviate from the belief in the One and Only God, from the faith of Abraham and from the teachings of Christ as they appear even in the Church-edited New Testament. Jesus infallibly reiterates that he is the messenger of God, and acts in accordance with what God deigned to reveal onto him: ”The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (S.John, V: 19).
Thirdly, the Christian scholars argue, that the 1st Epistle of Paul to Timothy expressly states the idea of incarnation of God, which took the form of Christ’s (let peace be upon him!) miraculous birth. However, even the “Commentated Bible” by Lopukhin, published with permission of the Orthodox Church, mentions that an important alteration was made to the 16th verse of the third chapter of this Epistle. The original verse ran: “ And great beyond all question is the mystery of our religion, which was manifested in the body.” Some 300 years after this verse was written, John Christosom, the Christian patriarch, added just two letters, “Te” to the Greek word “os” (“which”) of the original, which resulted in “Teos” (God) and changed the verse to: “And great beyond all question is the mystery of our religion: “He who has was manifested in the body.”” It is this text, written 300 years after apostle’s death, that is quoted by the Christians as their proof of the Incarnation; - the idea, alien to God of Abraham.
It should be noted that this alteration is immediately conflicting with the rest of the New Testament. Unlike the Christian scholars of the Middle Ages, apostle Paul does not state that Lord Jesus Christ (let peace be upon him!) and God “are one”: “ …There is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many). But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor, VII: 4-6).
Unsupported by the original texts, the dogmas of the medieval official Christian Church caused many Christians to have more doubts of it. For instance, as early as in the 5th century, millions of believers refused to accept the doctrines of the Chalcedony’s Assembly and broke away from the Roman-Byzantine official Church, which immediately started persecuting them with the emperor’s help. Centuries that followed saw the emergence of numerous theological sects, heresies and Churches, which were eradicated by the state. The 16th century saw the nascence of the Protestant Churches, and now they are dominant in the leading Western countries. All the doctrines of Christ as a god–man are based on the aforementioned texts.
Leo Tolstoy in his letter to the father of the two cadets, who voluntarily converted to Islam, was drawing a comparison between the Byzantine - Christian and the Islamic tradition. (It should be noted, however, that his knowledge of the Muslim tradition was restricted by the absence of the Russian translations of the Islamic books.)
He wrote: “As for the preference of Mohammedanism to Christianity, and especially taking into account the noble motives that your sons provide, I can only wholeheartedly sympathize with their decision. Strange as it sounds, whereas I worship the Christian ideals and the Christian doctrine in its original form, - nonetheless I don’t have the slightest doubt that, as far as the external forms are concerned, the Mohammedanism is certainly more developed than the clerical Orthodoxy.
So, if a man were given only two options, that is to hold on to the clerical Orthodoxy or choose Mohammedanism, any intelligent person would not doubt turn to the second, and choose Mohammedanism, with its crucial dogma of the One and Only God and His Prophet; whereas the Christians have a very complex and confusing theological system of Trinity, Redemption, Sacraments, the mother of God, saints and their images, and the complex Church services. It couldn’t have been the other way, that is, it is impossible to imagine that Mohammedanism, pure of superstitions that are obscuring the essential meaning of the doctrine and became part of the Church faith, - failed to be given a higher position than the faith of Church merely due to the fact that Mohammedanism appeared some 600 years later, than Christianity”.
The pantheism, or heathenism, which in the minds of believers bring God down to Earth, results in the insidious tendency to conceive of God after our own pattern. In the minds of the worshippers, God is ascribed with the features of the earthly king, who should assume the responsibility for the evil things that happen in the world. Either He is not omnipotent and does not have the powers to eradicate evil, or He Himself allowed for this evil and enjoys it. The helpless believers can only abide by the unjust laws, established by God and humbly beg the strong, albeit wicked boss for some perks and benefits.
Heathen religion deifies the folklore, automatically dubbing the folklore of another nation the hostile religious mythology. The extreme form of heathenism manifests itself in the perception that the priestly class was “chosen by God”, which, in turn, results in clericalism; that is to say, the struggle for the social supremacy of the clergy by means of the secular machinery of the state. This notion can even lead to the denial of the national identity of the people, when the nationality can be substituted by the cosmopolitan mythology.
The popular Church holiday of “The protecting veil of the Mother of God” was established by the Byzantine (and was later adopted by the Russian Orthodox Church) to commemorate the defeat of the Russian army at Constantinople in 860. The Russians came to set free their compatriots, who had been captured and enslaved by the Byzantine. As the Church version runs, an adolescent and a “God’s fool”, who were praying in the Vlahern Temple of Constantinople, had a vision of the Virgin, who covered the city with a large veil (omophore). When the Patriarch dipped a similar veil in the waters of Bosphorus, the Russian ships caught fire (in reality the fire was due to Greeks’ extensive use of the incendiary bombs and the focusing of the natural light by magnifying glasses.) Many Russian warriors died, leaving behind widows and children, but the Russian Orthodox Church keeps celebrating this tragedy of the Russian people as one of the greater festivals.
The heathen religion is not based on the principles of moral. The accent is shifted to the practical benefit of a given petitioner from a given god; it is a distortion of the human consciousness, a failure to believe in the One and Only God Almighty; a rejection of morale and the ideas of the social and spiritual justice; a denial of the necessity of the social change of the world in accordance with the principles of equality, freedom and dignity of every man before God; finally, it is a consent to the concept of man’s insignificance.
Studying the Quran, I came to understand the absence of a Christian single social doctrine; the Christian opposition of body and soul, religion and politics, duty and morality; the Christian principle of “all authorities are from God” and the necessity to obey the secular powers, letting the evil hit your other cheek. In his daily prayers, the Christian calls himself a ”lousy dog”, ”a lecherous and damned sinner”, “a swine that lies in excrements” etc. One cannot be pardoned for the numerous sins, which were not necessarily committed by him, but are “inherited” due to the flawed nature of man, without this ritual disparagement before the anthropomorphic God; without humble prayers to the souls of the dead. And I realized that the true Christianity that is sought by so many Christians nowadays, actually is the Word of Islam.
The Muslim only repents his personal sins, and, as a free man, personally manifests his good will. The Word of Islam is the understanding of one’s own freedom, granted by the Almighty. Unlike the Orthodox Christians, the Muslims don’t practice the “prayers of supplication”: in Arabic, the word “salat”, used for a ritual prayer, means “the glorification of God”. And every Muslim starts his prayer with a testimony of his intention to witness the Glory of God: “I testify that I intend to praise the One and Only God. I testify that there are no gods but the One and Only God”. It lays the basis for the development of a healthy and strong personality.
Islam is not hostile towards Christianity and Judaism as religions, as they are based upon the faith of Abraham (let peace be upon him!). Christians and Jews wishing to live peacefully with Muslims, are protected by the Faithful. This is of key importance for the future of Russia; as only belief in the One and Only God Almighty gives a free person the criteria for personal and social morality. This belief fills a person with the real content of the understanding of human dignity and social fairness and provides a person with assurance in tomorrow. It cements the basis of human society and a constitutional government. In the times of disturbed souls, absence of guiding light, and the bloody ghosts of the recent and not so recent past coming to life, - only the new ideology, based upon the true Faith, is capable of breathing new energy into our battered society.
"Allah has written down: I will most certainly prevail, I and My apostles; surely Allah is Strong, Mighty. You shall not find a people who believe in Allah and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to Allah and His Apostle, even though they were their (own) fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk; these are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and whom He has strengthened with an inspiration from Him: and He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; Allah is well-pleased with them and they are well-pleased with Him these are Allah's party: now surely the party of Allah are the successful ones". (The Quran 58:2).