Patterns: Islam & Christianity

This planned series of posts is primarily geared toward two audiences:

  1. Muslims who want to know a little more about Christianity
  2. Christians who want to know a little more about Islam

First, I must disclose my perspective as a non-believer in either of these religions. These posts are not meant to argue for or against either religion. Instead my goal, for both Muslims and Christians, is to illuminate the similar patterns of the human mind that created these religions.

It is my further hope that in doing so, both my Muslim and Christian audiences will soften the specialism, the exclusivism and the legalism in their religion, because I view these three traits as being the most dangerous aspects of any religion. Religion is an organizational form of thought like many others: political, economic, or social. But I am not solely critical of these forms of though. Religion, like governments, for example, can have both helpful and destructive elements. Here I am aiming at mollifying the harmful elements. I think comparative inspections can help us see our commonalities and possibly broaden our communities.

Finally, for religion-free folks (atheists, agnostics, humanists, secularist or whatever you call yourself), these simple posts may offer a different way of looking at religion. The classic, over-simplified way of understanding a religion is simply to think of religion as a list of beliefs. Beliefs are important, but I do not look at beliefs in terms of being simply either true or false. I instead look at the function of our beliefs — how they interact with our personality, our environment and history. The truth of religious beliefs is what most people argue and debate about, but in doing so, they hugely misunderstand the nature of the human mind and our behavior and our rhetoric. They misunderstand the nature of religion itself.

This is an ambitious goal, and like many of my other series I may end it very early, but even this introduction in itself says enough to give me a degree of satisfaction. To keep it going, however, it will help to have constructive or inspiring comments. So, let me know your thoughts, doubts and criticisms.

PS: I will explain the meanings of the header for these posts later, if you haven’t already guessed it.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

7 responses to “Patterns: Islam & Christianity

  1. Krishanu Bhattacharjee

    I’ve tried my hand at this – presenting Trinitarian and non-trinitarian understanding with the stance of of having a foot in either camp. I favour one side because i am a Catholic (the world’s worst). Take a look at a piece i wrote with this intent –

  2. @Krishanu: Could you try to interact with THIS post instead of simply linking to yours. I looked at your post — it argues with the assumption that any of this theological juggling matters in terms of truth, but my post points towards an alternative. Can you see my point?

  3. Krishanu Bhattacharjee


    Why should either of two truth-believing camps (Islam and Christianity) think your thoughts about their beliefs have any value when you don’t have any dogmatic commitment to absolutely *any* of the content of either?

    I’m asking non-confrontationally, What do you think they should/would make of a blogger analyzing their religions but frontloading that he is writing for them but he doesn’t think their truth claims are important or relevant to his analysis?

  4. k

    (I am Muslim…previously have used “anon” when commenting…its been a while since I visited here…)

    Specialism, Exclusivism, Legalism—interesting….the first 2 categories would be easy—-there are Quranic grounds for it. I would be interested in your ideas concerning Legalism. Islam, like Judaism, places an importance on ethico–moral Justice.
    (Though unlike Modern practices of “Law”—one law for everyone in a Nation-Sate—- classical/historical Islam accepted plurality of laws in a Nation-State/Empire.)

  5. Hello k (aka anon),
    I am not sure I understand your question.
    First, there are many, many types of Islam (not one) and many more types of Muslim. Many forms of Islam are exclusive and we-are-special thinkers — these are the cause of wars and hatred. Some Muslims do not hold this, of course. But there is no such thing as a “True Islam” — see: “True Scotsman Fallacy.” Next “Legalism” has to be defined, but the views that eating halal, drinking alcohol, dancing with women (who aren’t your wife, sister ….) and much more, is the type tight legalism which I refer to.
    I hope that gets to some of your thinking.

  6. @ Krishanu Bhattacharjee,
    Sorry I missed your delayed comment, now mine is also delayed.
    “Truth claims” about reality are one thing (how to build a house, to make a drug, to build a ship, to raise crops…).
    truth claims about what is the best fiction, is another. (mythical religions)

  7. k

    There was no question—just an interest in any ideas on “softening” legalism.
    I agree that Islam (as practiced) is varied. There are also many Tafsir (exegesis) of the Quran so one could say, there is a range of opinion on what it is the Quran means/says. Which is why one could persuade towards a “softening” of exclusivism and specialism using the Quran itself…..if one were so inclined…..
    The legal traditions (Fiqh) are not only complex, but also have a long history…but I do agree that defining terms would be a good start.

    ….eating halal, drinking alchohol, dancing with women….are an interesting pick of activities….looking forward to your ideas.

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