Dr. Mark Durie gave a fascinating lecture on this subject. The title that I used is from his lecture. Mark thought that it was/is a very important question. I will be curious to read your thoughts and comments.
How many times have you heard the term ‘Abrahamic Faith’? What does the term mean to you? If you are like me you naturally assumed it meant that Abraham is the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It sounds so inclusive and encouraging and it could mean that maybe we can sort through the differences, correct? Not so, according to Dr. Mark Durie. I attended the UAI2018 this week and Dr. Durie’s lecture on “Is Islam an Abrahamic Faith?” was eye opening. I will never use the phase again without a qualifier. What sounds so innocent is really a core Islamic doctrine.
Dr. Durie starts with a comparison of who was Abraham and what was his role in the ‘big 3’. Was he a unifier or a divider? Can Jews and Christian unite around Abraham or do we have different understanding about him? Was Abraham saved by faith or is he be the first Torah observer? (compare Gen 15:5 with Gen 18:9)
He is a divider.
He then turns to the Quran and compares its Abraham to the Bible’s Abraham. In it we find a different Abraham, not just the father of Isaac. He was a messenger on a par with all the other messenger in the Quran he was a type of Muhammed. He was given a book from Allah, he built the Kaaba, he names his followers Muslim, he taught the same religion that Muhammed brought, the religion of Moses, Jesus and Noah, he was the model Iman and he was the model of hostility and hatred not unity. Mark uses many references in the Quran to support this but he quotes this one and expands it.
There was a good example for you in Abraham, and those who were with him, when they said to their people, ‘Surely we are free of you and what you serve instead of Allāh. We repudiate you, and between us and you enmity has shown itself, and hatred forever, until you believe in Allāh alone’ – except for Abraham’s saying to his father: ‘I shall indeed ask forgiveness for you, but I have no power from Allāh to (benefit) you at all’ … Certainly there was a good example for you in them – for whoever hopes in Allāh and the Last Day. (Q60:4-6)
From here Mark makes the case that Islamic doctrine teaches supersessionism (replacement theology). Judaism and Christianity are just failed attempts at implementing Islam and it was Muhammed that puts this back on track.
He uses the following excerpt from a letter to the Middle East forum to give the modern day Islamic POV.
Shamin A. Siddiqi of Flushing, New York put this position in a letter to Daniel Pipes:
Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muḥammad were all prophets of Islam. Islam is the common heritage of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim community of America, and establishing the Kingdom of God is the joint responsibility of all three Abrahamic faiths. Islam was the din (faith, way of life) of both Jews and Christians, who later lost it through human innovations. Now the Muslims want to remind their Jews and Christian brothers and sisters of their original din. These are the facts of history.
Lastly he explains where this whole idea of ‘Abrahamic Religion’ comes from. The term started to gain popularity in 1950 and was a result of the work of a Maronite priest, Youakim Moubarac who took the position that Islam was a faith of genuine revelation and Muhammed as a prophet of God. He was able to influence the Vatican II’s Islam policy:
841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (Catholic Catechism, p. 330)
And a more current statement from the Catholic church:
“our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and to proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.”
Pope Francis, on interreligious dialogue, quoting 841 of the Catholic Catechism
Mark wraps up his lecture with the this statement:
The idea of “Abrahamic Religion” is not a point of unity between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but of division. It arises from and points to the Qur’an’s supersessionist theological theme.