Yep, I’m taking apart a Chick tract again.
Recently an interesting yet annoying discussion came up in a discussion group about the difference between devout Muslims, and the nutjobs who call themselves Muslim, then murder people and blow stuff up. Watch certain news channels and you’ll never hear there’s any difference. As a result many Americans think there is no difference. They assume the fakes are actual Muslims and call ’em “radical Islam.”
I’ve pointed out this is like saying a white supremacist is a “radical Christian.” Scary thing is, there are some people who actually respond, “Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s like.” To their minds if you call yourself Christian or Muslim, even if you’re not at all like Jesus or Muhammad taught, it’s still what you are. Funny; transgendered people have been trying to get them to believe that about them… but I’m gonna get in hot water over that comparison, so I’ll stop now.
Chick’s deal wasn’t to introduce people to Christ Jesus, so much as try to convert ’em to his particular narrow brand of Fundamentalism. First he scared his readers by showing them their existing belief system is devilish, and that God intends to toss everyone connected with it into fiery hell. In between the lines, you’re expected to figure out God nonetheless loves you and wants you to turn to Jesus. What’s far more likely is you’re gonna respond, “What is wrong with this guy?” and assume all of us Christians—not merely the Fundamentalists—hate your pagan soul, and think you’re wicked and evil.
No, this guy isn’t pointing to himself to imply he’s Allah. Pretty sure that’s blasphemy. Allah 1 (Reference numbers to this tract refer to images on the website; the cover is 1, the next page is 2, etc.)
And, as I pointed out with my bit on his tract “The Attack,” Chick was totally willing to make up history and misquote bible to get his points across. He’ll likewise do that in today’s tract, “Who is Allah?” You can read it in its entirety on his website, along with a version for white people called “Allah Has No Son.” Both tracts aren’t just inaccurate: They include blatant lies.
I’m gonna quote the Quran in this article, and since I don’t know Arabic I’m gonna go with the well-known Yusuf Ali translation, which is likely the same one Chick used. Unlike the bible, the Quran is one book, with 114 suwar/“chapters.” So I refer to ’em as Quran, chapter and verse. (Chick’s footnotes go like “Sura 5:33,” which just means “chapter 5.33.”)
The white-person tract title “Allah Has No Son” actually comes from Quranic teachings:
111 Say, “Praise be to God, who begets no son, and has no partner in (his) dominion: Nor (needs) he any to protect him from humiliation: Yea, magnify him for his greatness and glory!” Quran 17.111
Muslims are really big on saying that, ’cause they want to make it crystal clear that while they believe in Jesus, they don’t believe he’s God’s son. Nor that God has any sons.
As one of God’s adopted sons, I could explain the whole adoption idea… but this piece isn’t about rebutting Islam, but Islamophobes.
“Allah” means God.
You might’ve noticed Yusuf Ali’s translation doesn’t use the word “Allah,” but “God.” That’s because Allah is Arabic for God. The words are interchangeable.
Various Christians are gonna balk at that idea, because to them “Allah” is most definitely not God. Not the L
But it does. Y’know how western languages’ words for God all sound alike? In Latin (and Portuguese) it’s Deus. In Spanish Dios, Greek Theos, Italian Dio, Irish Dia, French Dieu. These similarities are called
Lowercase, all these words are their languages’ word for “god.” When you talk about the pre-Islam gods of Arabia, you’d use the Arabic word alaliha, which is plural for allah. Muslims aren’t using any special personal name for God, like Christians do when we say Y
So when Muslims say their statement of faith, the Shahada, they’re not really saying (as is commonly translated) “There is no God but Allah.” They’re actually saying La ilaha illa-llah/“There’s no god but God.”
Back to the Christians who insist the L
But there’s not enough merit in the idea to make it worth practicing. When Paul tried preaching Jesus to the Athenians, he started by pointing to one of the gods they already worshiped. To wit:
Acts 17.22-25 KWL
- 22 Standing in the middle of the Areopágos, Paul said,
- “Athenians, from everything I’ve see, you’re very god- and demon-fearing.
- 23 For as I passed through the city and looked closely at your shrines,
- I found an altar which was inscribed, ‘To God-Not-Known.’
- So you worship him!… ignorantly. Well, I’ll proclaim him to you.
- 24 God is creator of the universe and everything in it.
- He’s the master and possessor of heaven and earth.
- He doesn’t live in handmade temples, 25 nor do human hands serve him.
- Nor does he need anything. He gives life and breath to everything.”
Most religions do have an understanding of the One True God. The problem is it’s wrong. Not that we’re absolutely right. But Jesus is right, and if we can get ’em to look at their God through Jesus’s eyes, the Holy Spirit will correct all their wrong ideas, same as Jesus tried to do with the Pharisees. Same as we try with the pagans. Same as we can try with the Muslims. They gotta stop interpreting God through Muhammad’s eyes, and interpret him through Jesus’s. Right God, but wrong Master.
Got that? Good. On to Chick.
Let’s get scary.
For clarity’s sake I gotta name the people in the tract. We got a Fundamentalist whom I’ll call Garrett, his son Pedro, and the Muslim they hassle I’ll call Karam.
Karam’s wearing a keffiyeh, which implies they’re somewhere in the middle east. Likely in a Muslim-majority country, and likely in one of those countries where Garrett would totally get punched for the stuff he’s saying. If not arrested. No freedom of speech in a lot of those countries, y’know. Not even Israel.
But enough about those countries’ problematic behavior; let’s get to Garrett’s.
Yep, this is how you make friends in middle eastern countries. Allah 2
Any western kid would assume this was just a yoga class. Any Christian kid should’ve seen fellow Christians on their faces before God, but if not… well, let’s figure the people of his church have some pride issues. Pedro’s clueless, so he asks his dad, who instead of giving Pedro a proper answer like, “It’s prayer time and they’re praying,” says, “They’re praying to their moon god, son.” Nice and loud, so the worshipers can totally hear him mock their religion.
Any Muslim would understandably be offended. How’d you like it if you were in a church service praying to Jesus, and some pagan schmuck commented nice and loud, “Oh they’re praying to their sun god.” (Because, if we’re using the same sort of logic Chick does, Jesus is the Son, which sounds like “sun,” and he rose like the sun does, and is the light of the world, and there y’are. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.)
Understandably Karam bolts from the mosque to confront this jerk. Incorrectly, he breaks off his prayer time to do so. Karam isn’t that devout, as we’ll see. Even though he’d just been praying,
1 In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful. Quran 1.1
he basically decides to ditch God’s grace and mercy, and go smack a rude Christian upside his head.
Karam’s about to throw down. Allah 3
Karam calls Garrett an infidel. The Arabic word kafir means “unbeliever,” and much like when Christians call someone a heathen, it’s meant to be derogatory. That’s why devout Muslims avoid saying it, ’cause it’s rude. They especially avoid saying it to refer to Jews and Christians. See, Abrahamic religions are considered sister religions, so it’s against Sharia law to call Christians and Jews unbelievers unless they actually aren’t of those religions. And just to be on the safe side, some Muslims won’t even use the term then.
We Christians aren’t supposed to be jerks, and Garrett’s rude behavior implies he’s no Christian, so I’ll give Karam a pass on this one. But as the tract goes on, you’ll notice Karam also kinda sucks as a Muslim. Self-control isn’t solely a Christian thing. A practicing Muslim would demand Garrett explain himself. Then correct his errors, then permit the man a chance to repent of his ignorant remarks.
Not, “I could
33 The punishment of those who wage war against God and his Apostle, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: Execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter; 34 except for those who repent before they fall into your power: In that case, know that God is oft-forgiving, most merciful. Quran 5.33-34
The context is about actual unbelievers: Those who don’t follow God at all. Arguably you could include Jews and Christians who go to war with Muslims; the Muslims certainly did during the Crusades. When people commit horrendous crimes, stands to reason they’re to be killed, maimed, or banished. Unless of course they repent. Karam should know this, but Chick wasn’t interested in presenting Islam accurately. He didn’t care what Muslims believe, and it shows. “Radical Islam” or regular Islam; it’s all Islam to him.
Garrett tries to weasel out of Karam’s wrath by pointing out his wiseass remark wasn’t directed to him. Back when I was more of a wiseass myself, I tried to use that defense whenever I wished to get out of a beatdown. “You thought I meant you? No no no. It was some other drunken frat boy. I’d never insult you, sir…” Cowardice isn’t really a Christian trait either.
Next few pages, Karam starts monologuing like a Bond villain. The goal here is to scare Christians. A lot.
But just for fun, take all the stuff Karam states about Islam, and imagine a Fundie saying them about Christianity. It’s remarkably similar.
“Fear my big scary religion!” Allah 4
Second-largest religion in the United States would actually be Judaism, with about 6 million adherents. Islam’s third with about 3 million. Although some demographers speculate it may become second-largest in 2040, ’cause Judaism’s been on the decline for decades. Oh, there are still plenty of Jews in the States, but they’re either turning secular or Christian.
Let’s be fair: When Chick originally produced this tract, was Islam at that time the second-largest religion in the States? Nope; still Judaism. Islam might’ve even been behind Buddhism at the time.
And no, it’s not the fastest-growing religious group in the States either. As far as actual numbers of people are concerned, Christians are still outpacing Muslims by millions. As far as a growing percentage of the total population, the segment that’s expanding fastest is actually the nontheists, who went from 10 percent in 1990, to 20 percent in 2016.
Scary extreme close-up. Allah 5
It’s far more likely a Russian flag will fly over the White House in the near future… but let’s not go there today.
Historically Mecca was Islam’s first target, which Muhammed captured in 630. After that came Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Sindh, Libya, Iberia… and then the Franks drove ’em back in 732. Then they slowly knocked back the Roman Empire (which had shrunk down to what historians call the “Byzantine Empire”) until finally defeating it in 1453, and replacing it with the Ottoman Empire. That empire grew till it was defeated in World War I, and partitioned between the Allies and other newly-independent kingdoms. The Turks became independent in 1922, and the rest of the territories after World War II.
But Chick wasn’t writing about medieval to 20th century history. He was preying upon current Islamophobes’ fears, trying to tie the various 21st-century terror attacks on England and the United States into some sort of Muslim master plan to take over our English-speaking countries.
“No, your religion is false.” Allah 6
The claim the Quran condemns the bible? That’d be false:
3 It is [God] who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and he sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and he sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). 4 Then those who reject faith in the signs of God will suffer in the severest penalty, and God is exalted in might, Lord of retribution. Quran 3.3-4
Muslims do accuse Jews of altering the Law, and Christians of altering the gospels. Namely the parts where the bible and Quran differ. But otherwise they consider the bible a divine revelation from God, on par with the Quran. The Quran only condemns those who “altered” the bible, and those who don’t obey its teachings. Like Garrett, who forgot to do as he’d be done by.
On with Karam’s rant.
Pedro’s getting really tired of the tirade. Allah 7
Obviously Muslims don’t believe Jesus is God’s son. Here’s that verse Chick footnotes:
91 No son did God beget, nor is there any god along with him: (If there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to God! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to him! Quran 23.91
The precise quote, “Say not that God” (or Allah) “begot a son” isn’t in any translation I could find. It comes a little closer in 17.111, which I already quoted.
Yes, Muslims believe Jesus was never crucified. This is why, if you’ve ever preached Jesus’s death and resurrection to a Muslim, they look at you funny.
157 That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God”—but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. 158 Nay, God raised him up unto himself; and God is exalted in power, wise; 159 And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them. Quran 4.157-159
Muslim scholars are actually divided as to whether someone else died in Jesus’s place. Popular tradition has it that Jesus and Judas Iscariot looked alike, and at the last second Jesus and Judas switched places, and Judas got crucified. But though Muslims don’t believe Jesus died, they do agree he’s in his glorified, resurrected body.
It regularly surprises Christians to discover Muslims also believe in Jesus. They’re kinda required to: They consider Jesus the next-greatest prophet ever (obviously they favor Muhammad) and that he’s gonna take over the world in his second coming. Muslims also believe in the virgin birth, that Mary was awesome, that Jesus ascended to heaven, that when he returns he’s sorting out all the differences between Muslims and Christians, and and that anyone who refuses to believe in him is in big trouble on Judgment Day. Read the Quran; Jesus comes up a lot.
But because the Quran tells Jesus’s story just differently enough from the gospels, Muslims have very different ideas and details about all these things happened, and will play out. Hence Christians’ and Muslims’ significantly different beliefs. Hence we’re gonna find it difficult to quote bible at them, because they’ll insist the Quran supersedes it. So close, and yet so far.
Anyway, Garrett’s response to Karam? “Allah is
I already dealt with how Fundies insist Allah isn’t God; now we’ll finally get to who they believe Allah is.
Chick’s revisionist history of “Allah.”
Back in the early 20th century, some idiot started the rumor “Allah” refers to an Arabic moon god. (I’m not entirely sure which idiot. There are a few candidates.) He noticed Muslims use a crescent and star as the symbol for their religion, figured there’s gotta be a link between their God and the moon, connected the dots, and there ya go.
Somehow Karam isn’t so offended by Garrett’s “Allah isn’t God” statement, he washes his hands of the whole foolish conversation. Instead he actually sits through the following bogus story about where “Allah” came from.
Once upon a time, there were these Sabeans… Allah 8
I’m not gonna debate about whether the Sabeans worshiped a moon god, and what his family consisted of. Lots of tribes back then had lots of local gods, and likely some of them were moon gods. Most pagan religions had a moon god. Most of those moon gods had kids. That’s not relevant.
Nor is it relevant how some of these gods were called “daughters of Allah.” Since allah means “god,” of course daughters of a god are gonna be called daughters of God. The Greek god Athena was the daughter of the god Zeus, and in ancient Greek poetry she was sometimes called the daughter of the théos/“god.” Which happens to be the very word used all over the New Testament to indicate the One True God. This does not mean Athena was the daughter of the L
But like I said, Chick didn’t know jack about linguistics.
When in doubt, stop thinking. Allah 9
Allah was this moon god, Garrett insists, and that’s why there are crescent moons all over Islam. That’s why Ramadan starts at the crescent moon. Don’t believe me? Ask your mullah. (Which is what Iranians call imams, which implies this whole story is taking place in Iran, which brings up whole new questions… but I’m getting off track again.)
Why does the month of Ramadan start at the crescent moon? Duh: The Muslims follow a lunar calendar. New months begin at the new moon. The Jews have a lunar calendar too, and their months begin exactly the same way. Following Chick’s reasoning, since Rosh Hashanah begins with the crescent moon, what’s that make the L
This is extremely basic knowledge. And somehow Karam doesn’t have it. Stands to reason; Fundamentalists don’t believe in science, so they’re happy to project such ignorance on others. Karam foolishly responds, “It’s not good to ask such questions,” which is something you’re far more likely to hear from a Fundamentalist when they’re asked about the origins of the bible, the age of the earth, and really anything which might throw doubt into ’em. Funny how often Fundies like to imply others are closed-minded.
So Muhammad simply picked a god… Allah 10
Garrett claims Muhammad picked his home tribe’s moon god so they’d accept and follow him. Now the actual history. Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraysh, were the guardians of the Kaaba and its idols. They were also the first of the people of Mecca to oppose Muhammad’s message. He had to conquer his own tribe before he could finally smash every idol in the Kaaba. Including any moon gods they happened to have.
Next Garrett brings up a site “excavated at Hazor in Palestine.” Lemme remind you Palestine is also known as Israel, and Hazor is located in the upper Galilee region. Not Arabia.
The people who lived in the upper Galilee were Canaanite, Samaritan, Israeli, and Syrian. Not Arab. Any connection between any gods they found there, and the title “Allah,” is entirely made up. Nevertheless, Garrett wants to connect the two… and it just so happens he carries a photo of the “moon god,” just to piss off unsuspecting Muslims.
Oooh. Photographic evidence. Allah 11
From time to time Chick included footnotes in his tracts. This Palestinian “moon god” he refers to, comes from the books The Moon-God Allah in the Archaeology of the Middle East and Islamic Invasion, both by Dr. Robert A. Morey, both published by Jack T. Chick. Which goes to show if you ever wanna make a point but don’t have references as proof, publish ’em yourself.
The guy who actually found this statue was Israeli archaeologist (and former
No, the statue doesn’t have a label on it saying, “This is Allah.” But for many folks, seeing is believing, and photos—even when they say nothing—prove everything. So after this photographic coup de grâce, Garrett figures his point is made. Now he can finally talk about God’s angry wrath upon Muslims for worshiping a fake god.
Judgment Day. Allah 13
Chick just had to include an image of Muhammad burning in hellfire, which is not the sort of thing you wanna show a Muslim when you’re trying to win ’em over. Also not the sort of thing you wanna publish in European newspapers.
The rest of the tract is Chick’s usual spiel about how Jesus died for our sins so we can spend eternity in heaven. Which has its own problems. Partly ’cause Chick can’t proof-text verses properly, even when he’s not entirely wrong. But mostly because Chick is all about afterlife insurance: Believe in Jesus and escape hell. You’ll notice Christians who only fixate on that, tend to suck at following Jesus in this life, and tend to be horribly fruitless. It’s a plague among Christians.
But it works on Karam, who says a version of the
magic words sinner’s prayer and invites Jesus into his heart.
A new convert… whom Islam considers apostate. Allah 20
Which is good, but I should point out there are massive consequences when a Muslim does this in a Muslim homeland. Leaving Islam is considered apostasy, and in many Muslim countries it’s a capital crime: You get beheaded. In Muslim-predominant secular countries, like Turkey and Egypt, the state may not behead you, but good luck surviving the wrath of your offended neighbors when the cops aren’t looking.
Hence the righteous thing for Garrett to do, would be to get Karam to someplace safe. Like a local underground Christian community. Maybe even get him out of the country. But y’know, the tract never deals with that. Garrett was only there to win people to Jesus, not minister to anyone. Nor even disciple this poor guy. He’s gonna abandon him to stumble around in his now-hostile homeland, friendless and alone.
Karam’s gonna die for Jesus way too soon. Allah 22
Jesus may never leave nor forsake you,
Bad fruit and false witness.
36 And if (at any time) an incitement to discord is made to thee by the Evil One, seek refuge in God. He is the one who hears and knows all things. 37 Among his signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Adore not the sun and the moon, but adore God, who created them, if it is him ye wish to serve. 41.36-37
So whom does this tract actually work on?
Certainly not Muslims. They’ll read it, and reject it as stupid. The strawman stereotype of a Muslim won’t fit with any Muslim they recognize. He neither sounds nor acts like an actual Muslim. He rejects Allah way too easily.
Nope, the only people who pick up this tract and find it profound are ignorant, fear-filled Christians who’ll believe anything which slams Muslims. And since Chick’s company sells 100 of these tracts for $17 (not counting shipping), he can sell them to these outraged Christians and make some decent coin on the deal. They’ll spread ’em around, then go back and buy more. Sure, these tracts won’t win anyone to Jesus, but the Islamophobes will feel really good about themselves.
Does this make it sound as if Chick was only doing this for the dough? Well, look at his fruit.
- He plays really fast and loose with facts. Even makes some up. So clearly he’s not about truth.
- He plays on people’s fears of angry Muslims taking over the world. In other tracts he focuses on fears of Satan, devils, magic, Catholicism, various other religions, war, you name it. Fear ain’t the right fruit; it corresponds to a lack of love.
- He’s not patient enough to encourage Christian growth. He just wants people to rattle off a sinner’s prayer, consider themselves fixed and ready for heaven, and that’s it.
- The protagonists of his tracts definitely aren’t kind to the people they talk to. Plus in this tract, Garrett definitely isn’t faithful to his new convert.
This being the fruit, what other conclusion can I come to?
So since this tract, and fear-bait just like it, spreads around Christendom pretty widely, from time to time I run into Christians who believe this claptrap. It’s kinda obvious they learned the “moon god” stuff either from this tract, or from Fundies who taught it second- or thirdhand. Didn’t learn it from any actual history books. Definitely didn’t learn it from Muslims. (Not even Black Muslims, whose beliefs are totally beyond the pale for most Muslims. Read The Autobiography of Malcolm X sometime. It gets nuts.)
But since it’s false history, it’s false witness against our Muslim neighbors.
You wanna learn what Muslims believe? Ask a Muslim. Read one of their books or websites. Read something by reputable religion scholars. Heck, read Wikipedia. Stay away from the cranks as best you can; remember that just as Christendom has its looneys, so does Islam—which you probably knew. Oh, and if they invite you to join the Islamic State, tell the
But whatever you do, don’t trust Chick tracts.