Sunday being their day of rest, it is probably the best day of the week to talk to our numerous Christian readers about their religion.
Today we talk about the man who named himself (quite late in his life) Paul, and is known to history as Saint Paul.
We compare St. Paul, whose followers are now estimated at 2.2 billion – making his invention, Christianity, the biggest religion in the world – with Muhammad, whose followers are now estimated at 1.6 billion – making his invention, Islam, the second biggest religion in the world.
There are close similarities between St. Paul and Muhammad:
Both invented a god and claimed a unique relationship with him.
To each of them this god expounded exclusive information; in St. Paul’s case directly, in Muhammad’s through an intermediary.
Both claimed that his god gave him unique authority to expound his truth to the world.
Both declared that his god demanded mankind’s submission to the divine will.
Both desired his faith to become the single religion of the entire world. Though this dream has not been realized in either case, each launched an ideological movement that became enormously successful. In this they are peers, and no other individual comes near to matching their achievement in terms not only of numbers of followers but of endurance through time. (Christianity has lasted some 2,000 years, Islam about 1,500.)
Both preached the subjugation of women.
Both preached the obedience of slaves.
Both anathematized homosexuality.
Both preached predestination.
Both taught martyrdom as a model way to die.
Each held himself up as a model of the perfect man.
Each took the idea of monotheism from the Jews; laid claim to their mythology and historical legends; picked some of their commandments and rules, and adapted all of it to his special needs.
Each hoped to convert the Jews and when he failed, stuck it to them.
Differences between the two persons and their respective ministries:
Muhammad was illiterate, St. Paul was literate.
Muhammad spread his religion by the sword, St. Paul by the word. (Later Christians and Muslims used both.)
Allah and Christ – the tethered and the free-range gods:
Muhammad attached his god to himself so tightly that there could be no Allah without Muhammad. It cannot be said that St. Paul cut Christ loose, but he did give him quite a lot of slack.
A theocracy versus separation of powers:
No secular authority can share power with Islam. There’s no part or detail of life, no action, no speech, no custom, no thought that is not regulated by Sharia, the law of Islam. The Christian churches share authority with secular powers, though there is almost always a line drawn between their respective provinces.
The main difference between the moral teachings of the two religions:
St. Paul’s Christianity teaches its adherents to be pacific, altruistic, forgiving and self-sacrificing. Muhammad’s Islam teaches its adherents to be bellicose, acquisitive, unforgiving and merciless.
To what extent are these contrasting doctrines obeyed by Christians on the one side and Muslims on the other? The Muhammad doctrine has been more faithfully followed through the history of Islam than the St. Paul doctrine through the history of Christianity. Europe, the first Christian continent, is more secular than religious now, but Christian doctrine has so soaked the culture that pacifism, altruism, and self-sacrifice is moving the Europeans to submit to the hordes of Muslims pouring onto their continent, carrying out rapine and slaughter, and demanding dominion. Islam – whose very name means “submission” – submits only to Allah.
So which side will win and which side lose looks like a foregone conclusion.