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How Christianity Shifted from Monotheism to Pagan Trinity

Introduction

Controversy rages between Christians and non-Christians, including Muslims and the followers of the other faiths, and among Christians themselves over the issues of monotheism and the  Trinity.

Though the Trinity has become a prevalent Christian doctrine recently and the monotheists have become a minority compared to the other Christian denominations, history tells us that the doctrine of the  Trinity was not the prevalent Christian doctrine in the past, but it was rather such a doctrine which found favor with the idolatrous Roman Empire which newly converted to Christianity.

Pure monotheism had been and remained the very basis of the Christian creed until it was overshadowed by the doctrine of the Trinity which was supported by the idolatrous authority. However, monotheism continued to exist and be professed by considerable fellowship until Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) came up with the final monotheistic message of Islam and asserted monotheism as the doctrine explicitly preached by Jesus [‘Eesa Masih (alayhissalaam)], and disowned all forms of Trinity, polytheism, and paganism which were introduced into the genuine Christian faith.

Therefore, monotheistic Christians embraced Islam for they found out that it is exactly identical to the previous Divine messages of both Moses (Musa alayhissalaam) and Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) as well as the revelations sent down to them.

Monotheism during Jesus’ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) Prophetic Mission

The Qur’an often harmonizes with the Bible, especially the New  Testament, over the reported statements and acts of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam), as well as the incidents which took place, the quotations which were cited and the controversy which broke out during the period of time Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was sent.

The Qur’an tells us that the disciples believed in Allah (God) as the Deity, as well as in the revelation He sent down and in Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) as the prophet and messenger of God. For example, God says:

But when Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam]felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said,  “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] God?”  The disciples said,”  We are supporters for God.  We have believed in God and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]. Our Lord, we have believed in what  You revealed and have followed the messenger [Jesus], so register us among the witnesses [to truth].”( Surah Aal `Imran 3:52-53)

God also says:

And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger [Jesus].”  They said,  “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to God].” (Surah Al-Ma’idah  5:111)

The verses of the New Testament concur with those of the Qur’an in this regard. Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is unequivocally described as “God’s messenger” in the New Testament. We read: “And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be  God’s messenger  and High Priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.” (Hebrews 3:1-2)

The  Qur’an  quotes Jesus [‘Eesa (alayhissalaam)] as  asserting  that  God  is his  lord  and God  and  as commanding the worship of God alone. For example, we read:

They have certainly disbelieved who say,  “God is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with God – God has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.  (Al-Ma’idah  5:72)

The verses of the New Testament also concur with those of the Qur’an in this regard.  There are several positions in the New  Testament quoting Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) as asserting that God is his God and as commanding the worship of God alone.

For  example,  in  the  New Testament,  we  read:  Jesus  [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] said, “Do  not  hold  on  to  me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)

We also read:  “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

We  further  read:  “Then  saith  Jesus  unto  him,  Get  thee  hence,  Satan:  for  it  is written,  Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10)

According to the above verses from the Qur’an and the Bible, it becomes crystal clear that Jesus [‘Eesa alqyhissalaam] admitted that God is his God and he commanded His worship and that the followers of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] believed in God as the Lord and the Deity and in Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] as a prophet and messenger of God.

That is the pure monotheism which Muslims have professed up to date. That is to say, the message of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] was preaching monotheism like all other messages conveyed by all other prophets and messengers of God.

Ascension of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] & Its Impact on Monotheism

Someone may wonder:  Where have the divinity and worship of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] along with God come from?  Where has the alleged  Trinity come from?  What are its historical origins?

It is quite safe to say that the Ascension of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was not less controversial than his miraculous birth. Just as people disagreed over his birth, they also disagreed over his Ascension.  The verses of both the Qur’an and the Bible indicate how considerable and bitter was the controversy over the Ascension of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] and consequently his very nature. For example, in the Qur’an, we read:

That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute. It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it,  “Be,”  and it is. [Jesus said], “And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him.  That is a straight path.” Then the factions differed [concerning Jesus] from among them, so woe to those who disbelieved – from the scene of a tremendous Day.  (Surah Maryam  19:34-37)

The Bible conveys to us the disagreement over the Ascension of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] and highlights the state of doubt and uncertainty which prevailed among even his disciples following his Ascension. In the Gospel of Mark, we read:  “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:14)

In the Gospel of Luke, we read: As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them,  “Peace to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why  are  you  troubled,  and  why  do  doubts  arise  in  your  hearts?  See  my  hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. And when he had said this, he showed them his  hands  and  his  feet. And  while  they  still  disbelieved  for  joy  and  were  marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” (Luke 24:36-41)

In the Gospel of John, we read: Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them  when  Jesus  came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen  the  Lord.”  But  he  said  to  them,  “Unless  I  see  in  his  hands  the  mark  of  the nails, and  place my finger  into the mark of the  nails, and place  my hand into his side, I will never believe.

Eight  days  later,  his  disciples  were  inside  again,  and  Thomas  was  with  them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to  Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:24-27)

Thus, it has become quite evident now that the Ascension, not to mention the miraculous birth of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam], led to bitter controversy over his very nature.  Therefore, history proves to us that the few centuries following the Ascension of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] marked an atmosphere of deep and sharp division in the Christian circles between monotheists who believed in God as the Only One God, polytheists who believed in Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) as God and worshiped him along with God and other factions that were somewhere in between.

First Council of  Nicaea & Establishment of  the Doctrine of  Trinity

The above-mentioned division  lasted even  after the  Roman Emperor  Constantine’s conversion to and profession of Christianity as the official faith of the Roman Empire.

Such division impelled Emperor Constantine to convene the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. to discuss the disagreements within the Church of Alexandria, settle dogmatic differences and unify the Christian creed. This was the first ecumenical council.

This council was attended by about 318 bishops, including 16 bishops supporting Bishop Arius and 22 bishops supporting St. Alexander of Alexandria.  The other bishops had not made up their mind yet.

Presbyter Arius argued for the supremacy of God, the Father, and maintained that the Son of God was created as an act of the Father’s will, and therefore, that the Son was a creature made by God.

It is noteworthy that when Arius got up to explain his belief, loud noise was made and a deaf ear was turned so that his argument would not be heard.

It is also reported that Emperor Constantine allowed Athanasius, the 25-yearold assistant of Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, to speak, though he was not entitled to do. He was just a young deacon at the time.

It  is also  reported  that reaching  a resolution  by the  Council was  not something easy, but rather required considerable effort. At the conclusion, the Council formulated the (Nicene) Creed from: “We believe in one God” to “and his kingdom will have no end”.

At the same council, the feast of Easter was set to a Sunday in the lunar month of Nisan. The Easter computation was separated from the Jewish calendar.

The attending bishops pronounced clerical judgment by excommunicating Arius and his followers from the Church. Seeing the threat of continued unrest, Constantine  also pronounced  civil judgment, banishing  Arius and  his followers into exile.

The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames while all persons found possessing them were to be executed. Nevertheless, the controversy continued in various parts of the Empire.

Bishop Alexander had already convened a synod of about a hundred Egyptian and Libyan bishops at Alexandria, which excommunicated and defrocked Arius and his followers.

Questions

How did Emperor Constantine profess Christianity though he could not ascertain the nature of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) and if he was a just prophet or God? How can there be difference within a  certain faith  among the  clergy over  the nature  of  God Himself, Who He should be and if He is only one or three?

How can any such difference last without resolution for more than three centuries? If  the  Council  of  Nicaea  was  actually  attended  by  318  bishops,  how  could  there  be difference between 16 bishops on the one hand and 22 bishops on the other hand? How come “the other bishops had not made up their mind yet?”

Were they (numbering 318-38=280) ignorant of their faith and their God and if Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was  a  prophet  or  God?  If  the  clergy  were  so  ignorant  like  that,  what  about  the  public at the time?

Was there not a sort of equilibrium between the two sides: 16 vs 22 though the latter included the bishop of Alexandria himself? Is it not logical that the supporters of the bishop  of  Alexandria  should  have  been  much  larger  in  the  face  of  an  ordinary  bishop who was  excommunicated  and defrocked  like Arius? Did the attending  bishops  wait to know the side which the Emperor would choose and then they joined it?

All of those questions need convincing answers!

First Council of Constantinople

The  most conclusive  evidence  for the  fact that  monotheism  existed,  had  strong  presence and was even widespread since the dawn of Christianity is its multiform re-emergence shortly after the bishop of Alexandria supported by the pagan Roman Empire stood up to Arius’ teachings which were closer to monotheism.

After Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, had fought against Arius’  teachings for many years, other similar beliefs emerged towards the end of the fourth century of the Christian era, specifically during the reign of the Roman Emperor  Theodosius I. Therefore, the second ecumenical council was convened in Constantinople in 381 A.D.

Those beliefs included that of the Macedonians or the Pneumatomachi.  They denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, hence the Greek name “Pneumatomachi” or “Combators against the Spirit”.

They also regarded the substance of Jesus Christ [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] as being of  “similar substance”  (homoiousios) but not of the “same essence” (homoousious) as that of God the Father.

The Pneumatomachi were denounced in 374 by Pope Damasus I. In 381 A.D., the Pneumatomachian concept that the Holy Spirit was a creation of the Son, and a servant of the Father and the Son, prompted the First Council of Constantinople (also termed the Second Ecumenical Council) to add, “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,  Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is equally worshipped and glorified,  Who spake by the Prophets,” into the Nicene Creed. As a result of the Second Ecumenical Council, homoousios has become the accepted definition of Christian orthodoxy.  Thereafter, the Macedonians were suppressed by the emperor Theodosius I.

Another belief is that of Apollinaris. It appeared to him that the union of complete God with complete man could not be more than a juxtaposition or collocation. Two perfect beings with all their attributes, he argued, cannot be one.  They are at most an incongruous compound, not unlike the monsters of mythology. In as much as  the Nicene faith forbade him to belittle the Logos, as Arius had done, he forthwith proceeded to maim the humanity of Christ [‘Eesa alayhissalaam], and divest it of its presumably noblest attribute, and this, he claimed, is for the sake of true Unity and veritable Incarnation.

He failed to submit even to the more solemn condemnation of the Council of Constantinople, 381, whose first canon entered Apollinarianism on the list of heresies.

At the close of this council Emperor Theodosius issued an imperial decree (30 July) declaring that the churches should be restored to those bishops who confessed the equal Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who held communion with Nectarius of Constantinople and other important Oriental prelates whom he named.

First Council of  Ephesus

Only a few years after the convention of the Council of Constantinople, the Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 A.D.  This third ecumenical council, an effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom, confirmed the original Nicene Creed, and condemned the teachings  of  Nestorius,  Patriarch  of  Constantinople  that  the  Virgin  Mary  may be called the Christotokos,  “Birth Giver of Christ” but not the  Theotokos, “Birth Giver of God”.

Nestorius’  doctrine, Nestorianism, which emphasized the distinction between Christ’s [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] human and divine natures and argued that Mary should be called Christokos  (Christ-bearer)  but not Theotokos  (God-bearer),  had  brought him into conflict with other church leaders, most notably Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria. Nestorius himself had requested that the Emperor convene council, hoping to prove his orthodoxy, but in the end his teachings were condemned by the council as heresy. The council declared Mary as Theotokos (God-bearer).

Nestorius was requested to recant his position or face excommunication. Nestorius was removed from his see, and his teachings were officially anathematized.

This precipitated the Nestorian Schism, by which churches supportive of Nestorius, especially in Persia, were severed from the rest of Christendom and became known as Nestorian Christianity, the Persian Church, or the Church of the East, whose present-day representatives are the Assyrian Church of the East, the  Chaldean  Syrian  Church,  the  Ancient  Church  of  the  East,  and  the  Chaldean Catholic Church. Nestorius himself retired to a monastery, always asserting his orthodoxy.

Questions

Had the doctrine of the Trinity been the predominant belief since of the dawn of Christianity and had monotheism not been a deep-rooted belief which had strong presence, would such bitter controversy have taken place over the very nature of God in Christianity??

Had the  Trinity been a clear-cut, evident and generally accepted in the sight of all Christians from the very beginning, is it logical that the greatest patriarchs and bishops would have disagreed over it throughout history as we have just read??

The Early Monotheistic Christian Denominations

Ebionitism

It is a Jewish Christian movement that existed during the early centuries of the Christian era.  They regarded Jesus of Nazareth [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] as the Messiah while rejecting his divinity and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites.  The Ebionites used only one of the Jewish Gospels, revered James the Just, and rejected Paul the Apostle as an apostate from the Law.

There is possible reference to Ebionite communities, existing some time around the 11th century, in northwestern Arabia, in Sefer Ha’masaot, the “Book of the Travels” of Rabbi Benjamin of  Tudela, a rabbi from Spain. These communities were located in two cities:  Tayma and Tilmas, possibly Sa`dah in  Yemen.

The majority of Church Fathers agree that the Ebionites rejected many of the precepts central to Nicene orthodoxy, such as Jesus’ (alayhissalaam) pre-existence, divinity, and atoning death.

The Ebionites are described as emphasizing the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam), who by virtue of his righteousness, was chosen by God to be the messianic  “prophet like Moses (Musa alayhissalaam)”  (foretold in Deuteronomy 18:14–22) when he was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism.
Paulianism

It is a 3rd-century belief concerning the nature of Christ, denying his divinity by asserting that he was inspired by God and was not a person in the  Trinity. It is ascribed  to Paul of Samosata (not to confused with Paul of Tarsus, the apostate) who  denied  a  distinction  of  persons  in  God  and maintained that Christ was a mere man raised above other men by the indwelling Logos.

Monarchianism

Monarchianism is a set of beliefs that emphasize God as being one person, in direct contrast to  Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons co-existing consubstantially as one in being.

Various models of resolving the relationship between God the Father and the Son of God were proposed in the 2nd century, but later rejected in favor of the doctrine of the  Trinity as expounded at the First Council of Constantinople, which  confirmed  the  concept  of  God  as  one  being  consisting  of  three  persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Two models of Monarchianism have been propounded:

• Modalism (or Modalistic Monarchianism) considers  God to  be one  person appearing and working in the different  “modes”  of the Father, the Son, and the Holy  Spirit.  The  chief  proponent of  modalism  was Sabellius,  hence  the  view  is commonly  called  Sabellianism.  It  has  also  been  rhetorically  labeled  Patripassianism by its opponents, because according to them it purports that the Person of God the Heavenly Father suffered on the cross.

• Dynamic Monarchianism holds that God is one being, above all else, wholly indivisible, and of one nature. It reconciles the  “problem”  of the  Trinity (or at least Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam)) by holding that the Son was not co-eternal with the Father.

Arianism

Arianism in Christianity is the Christological (concerning the doctrine of Christ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam)) position that Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam), as the Son of God, was created by God. It was proposed early in the 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius and was popular throughout much of the Eastern and Western Roman empires, even after it was denounced as a ‘heresy’ by the Council of Nicaea (325).

Arianism  is  often  considered  to  be  a  form  of  Unitarian  theology  in  that  it  stresses God’s unity at the expense of the notion of the  Trinity, the doctrine that three distinct persons are united in one Godhead. Arius’  basic premise was the  uniqueness  of  God,  who  is  alone  Self-existent  (not  dependent  for  its  existence on anything else) and immutable; the Son, who is not self-existent, can not therefore be the self-existent and immutable God. Because the Godhead is unique, it cannot be shared or communicated. Because the Godhead  is immutable, the Son, who is mutable, must, therefore, be deemed a creature who has been called into existence out of nothing and has had a beginning. Moreover, the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father, since the Son is finite and of a different order of existence.

The  Council of  Nicaea,  which condemned  Arius  as a heretic and  issued a  creed to  safeguard “orthodox” Christian  belief,  was  convened  to  settle  the  controversy.  The creed  adopted at Nicaea states that  the Son is  homoousionPatri  (“of one substance with the Father”), thus declaring him to be all that the Father is: he is completely divine. In fact, however, this was only the beginning of a long-protracted dispute.

Monotheistic Christians & Profession of  Islam upon the Advent of  Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)

An-Najashi (Negus) An-Najashi was the title of the king of Abyssinia. One Najashi, namely As-hamah ibn Abjar, who was contemporary with Prophet  Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) embraced Islam, became a good Muslim and was counted as a grand Companion of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  though  he  did  not  migrate  to  Madinah  or  even  meet  Prophet  Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  He  died  during  the  lifetime  of  Prophet  Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  who  offered  funeral prayer for him in absentia. It is not reported that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) offered funeral prayer for an absent deceased except An-Najashi.

In  Siyar A`lam An-Nubala’, Adh-Dhahabi (rahimahullah) reported that when `Amr ibn Al-`As and `Abdullah ibn Abi Rabia`h (or `Imarah bn Al-Walid) asked An-Najashi to extradite the Companions who migrated to Abyssinia, the following conversation took place between An-Najashi and the grand Companion Ja`far ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu):

An-Najashi wondered:  “Do you memorize some revelation he (Prophet Muhammad) received from God?”  Ja`far replied:  “Yes.”  An-Najashi said:  “Read it to me!” Then Ja`far read to him the opening verses of Surah Maryam (Mary). Thereupon, An-Najashi  kept  crying until  he moistened  his beard  and his bishops also kept crying until they moistened their scriptures. Then, An-Najashi said: “Indeed, this (Qur’an) and the revelation conveyed by Moses get out of the same lantern. Go where you like. By God, I will not, and even may not extradite you!”

On the next day, at Amr ibn Al-`As’  request, An-Najashi summoned the Companions  and wondered: “What do you  believe about  Jesus?” Ja`far replied: “We have the same belief which our Prophet affirmed.  We believe that he is God’s servant, messenger, spirit and word which He communicated to Mary, the  Virgin.”  Then, An-Najashi struck the ground, picked up a rod and said:  “Jesus did not come out with as much as this rod more than what you said.” Then, patriarchs around him kept snorting. Then, he said: “Even though you snort, by God! Go where you like. You are safe in my land.

Ibn Ishaq reported: Ja`far ibn Muhammad quoted his father as saying: “The Abyssinians rebelled and revolted against An-Najashi whom they accused of the renunciation of their faith. So he prepared ships for Ja`far and his comrades and told them:  “Board the ships! If I am defeated, go away. If I clinch victory, stay here.” Then,  he  had a piece of writing in which he bore witness that there is no god but God, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is God’s servant and messenger and Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is God’s servant,  messenger,  spirit  and  word  which  He  communicated  to  Mary.  Then, he kept this piece of writing in his garment.

Thereupon, he went out to the Abyssinians who lined up for him.  Then he wondered:  “O people of Abyssinia, am I not the worthiest one to rule over you?”  They said:  “Yes.”  He asked:  “How have you found my rule?”  They answered: “It  is  the  best  rule.” Then,  he  asked: “So  what  is  wrong with  you?” They replied: “You  have  renounced  our  faith,  alleging  that  Jesus  is  just  a  servant  (of God).” Then, he asked: “What do you believe about Jesus?” They replied: “He is the  son  of  God.” Then  he  made  a  signal  at  his  chest  towards  the  piece  of  writing, indicating his belief in the piece of writing. But, the Abyssinians thought that he meant by this signal that he agreed with them.  Then, they became pleased with him and dispersed. When An-Najashi died, Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) offered funeral prayer for him and prayed to God for his forgiveness.

Heracle (Heraclius)

Al-Bukhari,  Muslim,  Abu  Dawud,  Imam  Ahmad,  and  other  hadith  compilers reported on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (radhiyallahu anhi) that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahi alayhi wasallam) wrote to Caesar and invited him to Islam …  When the letter of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) reached Caesar, he said after reading it,  “Seek for me anyone of his people (Arabs from Quraish tribe) if present here, in order to ask him about Muhammad.” At that time, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb was in the Levant with some men from Quraish who had come (to the Levant) as merchants … Abu Sufyan said, “Caesar’s messenger found us somewhere in the Levant so he took me and my companions to Jerusalem and we were admitted into Caesar’s court.”

Heracle kept asking Abu Sufyan about Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and Abu Sufyan kept answering his questions.  Then, Heracle said to Abu Sufyan: “These are really the qualities of a prophet who, I knew (from the previous Scriptures) would appear, but I did not know that he would be from amongst you. If what you say should be true, he will very soon occupy the earth under my feet, and if I knew that I would reach him definitely, I would go immediately to meet Him; and were I with him, then I would certainly wash his feet.”  Abu Sufyan added, “Caesar then asked for the letter of the Messenger of God and it was read. It read:  “In the name of God, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful, (This letter is) from Muhammad, the servant and messenger of God to Heraclius, the Roman  Emperor. Peace be  upon the  followers  of guidance.  Now  then, I  invite you to Islam, so embrace Islam and you will be safe; embrace Islam and God  will bestow on you a double reward. But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e. your nation). O people of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to us and you, that we worship none but God, and that we associate nothing in worship with Him; and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God.  Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him) (3:64)

Abu Sufyan added,  “When Heraclius had finished reading, there was a great hue and cry caused by the Byzantine royalties surrounding him, and there was so much noise that I did not understand what they said. So, we were turned out of the court.  When I went out with my companions and we were alone, I said to them, ‘Verily, Ibn Abi Kabsha’s (i.e. the Prophet’s) affair has gained power. This is the King  of Bani Al-Asfar fearing him.’” Abu Sufyan added, “By  Allah, I remained low and was sure that his religion would be victorious till God converted me to Islam, though I disliked it.”

Al-Mundhir Ibn Sawa

Al-Mundhir ibn Sawa was the King of the Persian Gulf during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). He was a Christian as his people, namely `Abd Shams, were Christians. Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) wrote him a letter in which he invited him to Islam.

Then, Al-Mundhir embraced Islam but he was not a member of the delegation who  attended  from  Bahrain  to  meet  Prophet  Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  Instead,  he  wrote Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) a letter affirming his profession of Islam.

Al-Mundhir’s letter to Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) read:  “O Messenger of God, I read your letter, which you wrote to the people of Bahrain extending to them an invitation to Islam. Islam appealed to some of them and they entered the fold of Islam, while others did not find it appealing. In my country, there live Magians and Jews; therefore, you may inform me of the treatment to be extended to them.”

In  reply  to  Al-Mundhir’s  letter,  Prophet  Muhammad  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) wrote: “In  the  name  of  God, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful, (This letter is) from Muhammad, the Messenger of God to Al-Mundhir ibn Sawa. May peace be on you! I praise God, Who is One  and  there is  none  to be  worshipped  except  Him.  I bear  witness  that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is a servant and messenger of God. Thereafter I remind you of God.  Whoever accepts admonition does it for his own good.  Whoever followed my messengers and acted in accordance with their guidance; he, in fact, accepted my advice. My messengers have highly praised  your behavior. I  authorize you  to deal  with your people. So let  Muslims follow Islam. I forgive the offences of the offenders. Therefore, you may also forgive them.  Whoever wants to continue in their Jewish or Magian faith should be made to pay tribute.”

Waraqah ibn Nawfal

Waraqah ibn Nawfal was the cousin of Prophet  Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) first wife, Lady Khadijah (radhiyallahu anha), the Mother of the Believers. He was a Christian before Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prophethood, but he embraced Islam at the outset of Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prophethood.

In his Sahih, under the Chapter of the Outset of Revelation, Al-Bukhari (rahimahullah) reported on the authority of `Aishah (radhiyallahu anha) that Khadija (rashiyallahu anha) accompanied Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to her cousin  Waraqah  ibn  Naufal ibn  Asad ibn `Abdul `Uzza, who, during the pre-Islamic period, became a Christian and used to write writings with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as God wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. Khadija (radhiyallahu anha) said to  Waraqah, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqah asked, “O my nephew!  What have you seen?” The Messenger of God described whatever he had seen. Waraqah said, “This is the same one who keeps the secrets (Angel Gabriel) whom God had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live up to the time when your people would drive you out.”  The Messenger of God asked,  “Will they drive me out?” Waraqah replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone who came out with something similar to what you will come out with was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be driven out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days  Waraqah died.

It is noteworthy that  Waraqah ibn Nawfal was the first person to bring Lady Khadijah (radhiyallahu anha) glad tidings about Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prophethood after she had told him about what happened during Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) journey with her slave Maysarah along with her caravan travelling to the Levant, especially the cloud which was shading him until he came back to Makkah.

It is reported that he said to her: “If this is true, O Khadijah, Muhammad will be the  prophet  of  this  nation.  I  have  known  that  this  nation  waits  for  a  prophet who is about to appear.” (Ar-Rawd Al-Unuf: vol. 2, p. 161)   Waraqah  composed  a  poem apparently after this conversation, given the mention of Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) journey with Khadijah’s (radhiyallahu anha) caravan, the glad tidings about Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) prophethood and the promise to follow him.

In his Musnad, At-Tayalisi reported that  Waraqah ibn Nawfal and Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl went out in quest of the true religion. So they went to a monk at Mosul.  The monk said to Zayd ibn `Amr ibn Nufayl:  “Where have you come from, O camel rider?” He replied: “From Abraham’s household.” The monk wondered: “What do you seek after?” He replied:  “I seek after the true religion.”  He said to him:  “Come back for the one you seek after is about to appear at your homeland.

Nestorian Monk: Bahira

At-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakim reported on the authority of Abu Bakr ibn Abu Musa Al-Asha`ri on the authority of his father that Abu  Talib traveled  to the Levant, and the Prophet left with him, along with some older men from Quraish. When they came across the monk they stopped there and began setting up their camp, and the monk came out to them. Before that they used to pass by him and he wouldn’t come out nor pay attention to them.  They were setting up their camp when the monk was walking amidst them, until he came and took the hand of the Messenger of Allah.  Then he said:  “This is the master of men and jinn, this is the Messenger of the Lord of the  Worlds. God will send him as mercy to men and jinn.” So some of the older people from Quraish said:  “How do  you  know  that?”  He  said:  “When  you  came  along  from  the  road,  neither  a rock nor a tree was left, except that it prostrated, and they do not prostrate except for a prophet. And I can recognize him by the seal of prophethood which is below his shoulder blade, like an apple.” Then he went back, and made them some food, and when he brought it to them, he [Prophet Muhammad] was tending camels. So he said: “Summon him.” So he came, and there was a cloud over him that was shading him.  When he came close to the people, he found that they had sat down under the tree’s shade before he came. So when he sat down, the shade of the tree leaned towards him. He (the monk) said: “Look at the  shade of  the tree  leaning  towards him.’” While  he was  standing  with them, telling  them  not  to  take  him  to  the  Romans  –  because  if  the  Romans  were  to see him, they would recognize him by description, and they would kill him – he turned, and there were seven people who had come from among the Romans. So  he  received  them  and  said: “Why  have  you  come?” They  said: “We  came  because a prophet is going to appear during this month, and there isn’t a road left except that people have been sent to it, and we have been informed of him, and we have been sent to this road of yours.” So he said: “Is there anyone better than you behind you?” They said: “We only have news of him from this road of yours.” He said: “Do you think that if there is a matter which God wishes to bring about, there is anyone among people who can prevent it?” They said:  “No.” So they gave him their pledge, and they stayed with him. And he said:  “I ask you by God, which of you is his guardian?” They said: “Abu Talib.” So he kept adjuring him until Abu  Talib returned him (back to Makkah).

Salman Al-Faarisi (radhiyallahu anhu)

In his  Musnad, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rahimahullah) reported on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) that Salman Al-Farisi (radhiyallahu anhu) had a long conversation with him, in which he said: “I was a Persian man … I strove hard in the Magian religion … I passed by one of the Christian churches, where I could hear their voices as they were praying …  When I saw them, I was impressed with their prayer … I said to them: ‘Where did this religion originate?’ They said: ‘In the Levant’ … I sent word to the Christians saying: ‘If any Christian merchants come to you from the Levant, tell me about them.’ He said: ‘Some Christian merchants came to them from the Levant … and I went out with them, until I came to the Levant …

Salman (radhiyallahu anhu) kept serving monks, one after another, from the Levant through Mosul and Nusaybin to Amorium.  When the monk of Amorium was about to die, and Salman asked him to tell him about the next monk to serve, he said to him: ‘O my son, by God, I do not know of anyone who follows our way to whom I can advise you to go. But there has come the time of a prophet, who will be sent with the religion of Abraham. He will appear in the land of the Arabs and will migrate  to  a  land  between  two  harrahs  (lands  with  black  rocks),  between  which there  are palm  trees. He  will  have characteristics that  will not  be  hidden. He will  eat  of  what  is  given  as  a  gift  but  he  will  not  eat  of  what  is  given  as  charity. Between his shoulder blades is the seal of prophethood. If you can go to that land then do so.’

Then, Salman (radhiyallahu anhu) traveled to Arabia and stayed in Madinah.  When he knew that the people of Madinah were gathering in Quba’  to receive a man whom they believed to be a prophet, he went to him.

Salman said:  “I had something that I had collected, and when evening came, I went to the Messenger of God when he was in Quba’, and I entered to him and said to  him: ‘I have  heard that you  are a righteous  man and that  you have companions  who  are strangers and  are in  need. This is  something  that  I have  to give in charity, and I see that you are more in need of it than anyone else.’

I brought it near to him and the Messenger of God (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said to his companions: “Eat,” but he refrained from eating. I said to myself: ‘This is one.’ Then I went away and collected some more. The Messenger of God (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) settled in Madinah, then I came to him and said: ‘I see that you do not eat (food given in) charity; this is a gift with which I wish to honor you.’ The Messenger of God (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) then ate some of it and told his companions to eat too. I said to myself: ‘This is two.’

Then I came to the Messenger of God (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) when he was in Baqi` Al-Gharqad, where he had attended the funeral of one of his companions and he was wearing two shawls and was sitting down among his companions. I greeted him, then I moved behind him, trying to look at his back to see the seal that my companion had described to me.  When the Messenger of God (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) saw me going behind him, he realized that I was trying to ascertain something that had been described to me, so he let his garment drop from his back, and I saw the seal and recognized it.  Then I embraced and kissed him, while weeping …  Then, Salman (radhiyallahu anhu) embraced Islam and became a good Muslim.

Where Did The Doctrine of Trinity Come From??

The three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – all purport to share one fundamental concept: belief in God as the Supreme Being, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Known as “tawhid” in Islam, this concept of the Oneness of God was stressed by Moses (Musa alayhissalaam) in a Biblical passage known as the “Shema,” or the Jewish creed of faith:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

It was repeated word-for-word approximately 1500 years later by Jesus (‘Eesa Maseeh alayhissalaam) when he said: “…The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29)

«”Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) came along approximately 600 years later, bringing the same message again: “And your God is One God: There is no god worthy of worship but He, …” (The Qur’an 2:163)

Christianity has digressed from the concept of the Oneness of God, however, into a vague and mysterious doctrine that was formulated during the fourth century A.D. This doctrine, which continues to be a source of controversy both within and without the Christian religion, is known as the Doctrine of the Trinity. Simply put, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that God is the union of three divine persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – in one divine being.

If that concept, put in basic terms, sounds confusing, the flowery
language in the actual text of the doctrine lends even more mystery to the matter:

…we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity… for there is
one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Ghost is all one… they are not three gods, but one God… the whole three persons are co-eternal and co-equal… he therefore that will be save must thus think of the Trinity…” (excerpts from the Athanasian Creed)

Let’s put this together in a different form: one person, God the Father + one person, God the Son + one person, God the Holy Ghost = one person, God the What? Is this English or is this gibberish?

It is said that Athanasius, the bishop who formulated this doctrine, confessed that the more he wrote on the matter, the less capable he was of clearly expressing his thoughts regarding it.

How did such a confusing doctrine get its start??

TRINITY IN THE BIBLE

References in the Bible to a Trinity of divine beings are vague, at best.

In Matthew 28:19, we find Jesus telling his disciples to go out and
preach to all nations. While the “Great Commission” does make mention of the three persons who later become components of the Trinity, the phrase “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” is quite clearly an addition to Biblical text – that is, not the actual words of Jesus – as can be seen by two factors:

1) Baptism in the early Church, as discussed by Paul in his letters, was done only in the name of Jesus; and

2) The “Great Commission” was found in the first gospel written, that of Mark, bears no mention of Father, Son and/or Holy Ghost – see Mark 16:15.

The only other reference in the Bible to a Trinity can be found in the Epistle of I John 5:7, Biblical scholars of today, however, have admitted that the phrase “…there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” is definitely a “later addition” to Biblical text, and it is not found in any of today’s versions of the Bible.

It can, therefore, be seen that the concept of a Trinity of divine beings was not an idea put forth by Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam] or any other prophet of God. This doctrine, now subscribed to by Christians all over the world, is entirely man-made in origin.

THE DOCTRINE TAKES SHAPE

While Paul of Tarsus, the man who could rightfully be considered the true founder of Christianity (read this article to know the reality of Paul) , did formulate many of its doctrines, that of the Trinity was not among them. He did, however, lay the groundwork for such when he put forth the idea of Jesus being a “divine Son.” After all, a Son does need a Father, and what about a vehicle for God’s revelations to man?

In essence, Paul named the principal players, but it was the later Church people who put the matter together and completed the process after were Paul had left it.

Tertullian, a lawyer and presbyter of the third century Church in
Carthage, was the first to use the word “Trinity” when he put forth the theory that the Son and the Spirit participate in the being of God, but all are of one being of substance with the Father.

A FORMAL DOCTRINE IS DRAWN UP

When controversy over the matter of the Trinity blew up in 318 A.D between two church men from Alexandria – Arius, the deacon, and Alexander, his bishop – Emperor Constantine stepped into the fray.

Although Christian dogma was a complete mystery to him, he did realize that a unified church was necessary for a strong kingdom. When negotiation failed to settle the dispute, Constantine called for the first ecumenical council in Church history in order to settle the matter once and for all.

Six weeks after the 300 bishops first gathered at Nicea in 325, the
doctrine of the Trinity was hammered out. The God of the Christians was now seen as having three essences, or natures, in the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

THE CHURCH PUTS ITS FOOT DOWN

The matter was far from settled, however, despite high hopes for such on the part of Constantine. Arius and the new bishop of Alexandria, a man named Athanasius, began arguing over the matter even as the Nicene Creed was being signed; “Arianism” became a catch-word from that time onward for anyone who did not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.

It wasn’t until 451A.D, at the Council of Chalcedon that, with the approval of the Pope, the Nicene/Constantinople Creed was set as authoritative.

Debate on the matter was no longer tolerated; to speak out against the Trinity was now considered blasphemy, and such earned stiff sentences that ranged from mutilation to death. Christians now turned on Christians, maiming and slaughtering thousands because of a difference of opinion.

DEBATE CONTINUES

Brutal punishments and even death did not stop the controversy over the doctrine of the Trinity, however, the said controversy continues even today.

The majority of Christians, when asked to explain this fundamental
doctrine of their faith, can offer nothing more than “I believe it because I was told to do so.” It is explained away as “mystery” – yet the Bible says in I Corinthians 14:33 that “… God is not the author of confusion…

The Unitarian denomination of Christianity has kept alive the teachings of Arius in saying that God is one; they do not believe in the Trinity. As a result, mainstream Christians abhor them, and the National Council of Churches has refused their admittance. In Unitarianism, the hope is kept alive that Christians will someday return to the true preachings of Jesus:
…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” (Luke 4:8)

ISLAM AND THE MATTER OF THE TRINITY

While Christianity may have a problem defining the essence of Allah, such is not the case in Islam.

«”They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity, for there is no god except One God.”» (Qur’an 5:73) It is worth noting that the Arabic language Bible uses the name “Allah” as the name of God.

Suzanne Haneef, in her book WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ISLAM AND MUSLIMS (Library of Islam, 1985), puts the matter quite succinctly when she says, “But God is not like a pie or an apple which can be divided into three thirds which form one whole; if God is three persons or possesses three parts, He is assuredly not the Single, Unique, Indivisible Being which God is and which Christianity professes to believe in.” (pp. 183-184)

Looking at it from another angle, the Trinity designates God as being three separate entities – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If God is the Father and also the Son, He would then be the Father of Himself because He is His own Son. This is not exactly logical.

Christianity claims to be a monotheistic religion. Monotheism, however, has as its fundamental belief that God is One; the Christian doctrine of the Trinity – God being Three-in-One – is seen by Islam as a form of polytheism. Christians don’t revere just One God, they revere three.

This is a charge not taken lightly by Christians, however. They, in
turn, accuse the Muslims of not even knowing what the Trinity is, pointing out that the Qur’an sets it up as Allah the Father, Jesus the Son, and Mary his mother. While veneration of Mary has been a figment of the Catholic Church since 431A.D when she was given the title “Mother of God” by the Council of Ephesus, a closer examination of the verse in the Qur’an most often cited by Christians in support of their accusation, shows that the designation of Mary (Bibi Maryam) by the Qur’an as a “member” of the Trinity, is simply not true.

While the Qur’an does condemn both trinitarianism (the Qur’an 4:17) and the worship of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) and his mother Mary (Bibi Maryam) (the Qur’an 5:116), nowhere does it identify the actual three components of the Christian Trinity. The position of the Qur’an is that WHO or WHAT comprises this doctrine is not important; what is important is that the very notion of a Trinity is an affront against the concept of One God.

In conclusion, we see that the doctrine of the Trinity is a concept
conceived entirely by man; there is no sanction whatsoever from God to be found regarding the matter simply because the whole idea of a Trinity of divine beings has no place in monotheism. In the Qur’an, God’s Final Revelations to mankind, we find His stand quite clearly stated in a number of eloquent passages:

«”…your God is One God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.”» (Qur’an 18:110)

«”…take not, with God, another object of worship, lest you should be thrown into Hell, blameworthy and rejected.”» (Qur’an 17:39)

…Because, as God tells us over and over again in a Message that is echoed throughout All His Revealed Scriptures:

«”…I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore, serve Me (and no other)…”» (Qur’an 21:92)

***********************************

Source: defendingislam.com

The Depiction of Jesus by Christians in Reality is a Depiction of an Ancient Pagan-deity!

The images of Jesus (Nabi ‘Eesa alayhissalaam) that Pagan Christians have in their churches, homes, Bibles, Sunday School or Sabbath School books are those which have the outward features of the chief pagan gods of the heathen world, That’s right! The “Jesus” of the Christian churches today in their depictions is not the real Jesus of the New Testament. The modern portrait (which they inherited from the Pagans/Idolaters of the last part of the fourth century) is nothing more than a characterization of the chief pagan gods, but Pagan Christians presently honor such pictures, icons or images as perfectly proper. If the apostles could come back to life and visit their churches or enter their homes, they would be aghast at seeing the chief god of the heathen world being honored or adored with esteem (and even being prayed to) by supposedly  “Christian” peoples.

Prof. Everett Ferguson in his excellent work titled “Backgrounds of Early Christianity” shows an example that the statues of Asclepius (the healing god of the heathen idolators) were images “that imitated those of Zeus … and that his portraiture influenced artists in depicting both Sarapis [the Egyptian Zeus] and Christ” (page 174). Does it make little difference if Christians call such pagan deities as “Jesus”?? Or is doing so a serious infringement of the teachings of the New Testament? This research study discusses this issue.

In the fourth century A.D it become common for many Gentile peoples throughout the Roman Empire (who had long worshiped pagan gods and goddesses) to begin identifying their deities of old with the newly honored “Jesus,” “Mary,” and the “twelve apostles” (plus other saints of the Old and New Testaments). One particular deity that seemed to blend together the attributes of several gods into a unified portrayal of deity was the Egyptian god “Sarapis.” This god had been famous for 600 years in Egypt and now his worship was found all over the Roman Empire. He was equated with the Greek Zeus (the chief god over all other gods) along with Asciepius (the god of healing).

image

The origin of the name “Sarapis” (often spelled “Serapis”) has had several derivations according to the national feeling of the people who worshiped him. But the name really has a Semitic origin. If one removes the final two letters (the “i” and the “s” which together represent a simple Greek terminal attached for euphonic reasons) we are left with “Serap” (or the Semitic “Seraph”). This name is found in the Bible. It identifies evil Jinns (Isaiah 6:17) whose name means “dazzling” or ‘brilliance” (M’Clintock & Strong, Cyclohpaedia, vol.IX p.568). The biblical word “Seraph’ also refers to a serpent (vol.IX, p. ~75), and it was commonly believed in the ancient world that some of the greatest deities of the pagans had various attributes that classified them symbolically as being like serpents. Eusebius (The first Christian historian said that the early writer Tauthus revealed that many pagan temples were consecrated to serpents and the people “in their honor celebrated festivals, and sacrifices, and mystic rites, regarding them [the serpents] as the greatest gods and rulers of the universe” (Preparation for the Gospel, I.X. sect.42b). The apostle John, taking up the “snake” theme, mentioned that Satan had his evil ones and that he was “that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Satan, however, does not look like a snake.  Paul added that Satan actually appears to mankind in the form of an “angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14).

If Satan the Devil reveals himself to man, it is in human form like an angel–like an angelic creature called a “Seraph” (or, in the Egyptian theophany, “Serapis”). . Remarkably, the pagan god “Serapis” of the fourth century appeared very much like what Christians (from the time of Constantine onwards) began to depict their “Jesus.”

Now look at this for a moment. It is more than coincidence that the portrait of “Jesus” that was adopted by Christians in the fourth century also shows a male person having long feminine hair. It was then a common thing to represent the pagan gods as having long hair. This was certainly the case with Zeus, Asclepius Hercules and the combination of pagan deities that gave Serapis his characteristics.

image

Serapis is always portrayed as Jesus in Pagan Churches. It is astonishing that since the time of Constantine in the fourth century, almost all the visionary experiences of people who believed they saw a personage they thought to be “Jesus,” have seen Serapis!. sometimes with a dazzling appearance (remember Paul describing Devil of Light as Lord!??). This is not the Jesus of Nazareth (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) whatsoever!

But by the fourth century, a great change of attitude began to take place among certain members of the Christian community. Even many orthodox Christians began to desire that Jesus be portrayed as the great philosophers of the world and with the Gentile depiction of divine greatness that they gave their Pagan gods. So Christians began to adopt a  White-Skinned  roman  pagan idol Serapis as “Jesus.”

The Change in Attitude to Portraitures of “Jesus”.

The middle and late parts of the fourth century brought on an entirely different belief-system in many Christian circles regarding the portrayal of Jesus and the apostles. It was a gigantic step into paganism. We have eyewitness accounts by some of the top Christian theologians of the time concerning the folly then being shown by certain artists and official rulers of wanting to depict Jesus like the world’s philosophers and in the way the pagan gods were portrayed.

These early theologians saw the error that the Christian world was being led into by misdirected people, but their appeal for sanity and common sense (as well as showing the biblical commands against such things) fell for the most part on deaf ears. The majority of the people then being converted to Christianity in the fourth century wanted Jesus to be shown in paintings and pictures (even as icons) and they erroneously selected the portrayals of the pagan philosophers and gods as their examples.

The following excerpts from early historical documents can show the opposition by several Christian theologians during and soon after the time of Constantine to the pagan portrayals of Jesus that were then beginning to be distributed amongst orthodox Christians. Though such resistance to the pagan trend was expressed by some influential theologians, the approval by the imperial authorities along with the desire of the general populace caused their warnings to be disregarded. Thus, a new type of “Jesus” began to be displayed that has dominated Christian art forms until modern times.

The following quote (abridged) is from Eusebius’ “Letter to Constantia” (the sister of Constantine the Great). It shows the utter disdain of Eusebius for what was then happening. All words in brackets are my explanations: ‘You also wrote me about some supposed image of Christ, which image you wished me to send to you. Now what kind of thing is that you refer to as the image of Christ? I do not know what compelled you to request that an image of Our Savior should be shown. What kind of image of Christ are you seeking? Is it the true and unadulterated one which bears His essential characteristics [His divine image], or the one which He assumed for our sake when He took up the form of a servant [His human form]?… Granted, He has two forms, and even I do not think that your petition has to do with His divine form….

“Surely then, you are seeking His image as a servant, that of the flesh which He assumed for our sake…. How can one paint an image so unattainable and wonderful a form…unless, as so the unbelieving pagans, one is to represent things that have no possible resemblance to anything…? For they [the pagans] make such idols when they wish to form the likeness of what they think to be a god or, as they might say, one of the heroes or anything else of like nature, yet they are unable even to approach a likeness, and accurately represent some strange human forms. Surely, even you will agree with me that such practices are illegal for us. [Eusebius believed, accurately so, that even a true likeness of Jesus -if one were available -was still not allowed to be displayed by biblical teaching.]

Have you ever heard of such a resemblance yourself in church or from another person? Are not such things excluded and banished from churches all over the world, and does not everyone know that such practices are not permitted to us alone?

“Once there was a woman, I do not know how, brought me in her hands a picture of two men in the demeanor of philosophers” [Dio Chrostom, “Oration Thirty-Five,” vol.III,pp.391,401, Loeb ed., stated that Gentile philosophers generally wore long hair] and the woman mentioned that they were Paul and the Savior. I have no way of knowing where she got this information or where she learned it. But in order that neither she nor others might receive offense, I took the picture away from her and kept it in my house, as I thought it was improper for such things to be displayed to others, lest we appear, like idol worshipers, to carry our God around in an image. I note that Paul informs all of us not to hold any more to things of the flesh; because he tells us that though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on we know Him no more.

Eusebius (who has been reckoned the most educated Christian at the time and he was certainly the first historian of the Christian faith) was not the only one who was indignant at the trend that was then in vogue to portray Jesus, the apostles and other saints of the Bible. Others also show how erroneous the artists were in their depictions and how wrong their pictures were from the biblical point of view.

The following quote is from Epiphanius of Salamis in his “Letter to the Emperor Theodosius” (written somewhere between A.D.379-395). The chief role of Epiphanius was his stern opposition to, and his battles against, the heresies then afflicting the Christian world. Note what he said: “Which of the ancient Fathers ever painted an image of Christ and put it in a church or a private home? [None of them ever did such a thing.] Which ancient bishop ever dishonored Christ by portraying Him on door curtains?…

“Moreover, they are deceiving who represent the likeness of [biblical] saints in different forms according to their whim, sometimes showing the same persons as old men, sometimes as youths, intruding into things which they have not seen. For they paint the Savior with long hair, and this by guessing because He is called a Nazarene, and Nazarenes wear long hair. They are in error if they try to attach stereotypes to Him.

Not only did the early Christian authorities believe it was wrong to display the image of Jesus or the apostles (even if true ones had been available), but they complained that the artists at their time were now giving Jesus long hair.

The following quote is from Theodorus Lector of the early 500’s A.D. as excerpted from Nicephoras Callistus Xanthopoulos’ “Church History, 1,15”: “At the time of Gennadius [Patriarch of Constantinople from 458 to 471] the hand of a painter was withered who dared to paint the Savior in the likeness of Zeus (yet another Pagan deity).

But by the fourth century, They began to show him like the Roman-pagan gods  and in the exact manner in which the heathen honored and adored their great men.

Theodorus Lector (as quoted by John Damascene):

“A certain painter had his two hands withered while he was painting an image of Our Lord Christ. It was said that the commission of [creating] the image was given to him by a pagan and that under the deception of the Jesus’ name, he painted the hair of the head parted in such a manner so as to leave the whole of the face uncovered [the hair flowing down each side of the face]. It is in this form that the pagans designate Zeus. So that those who saw it would think that the veneration was directed to the Savior [but Theodorus was showing it was deceptively directed to Zeus].”

Theodorus Lector (in the above quote) shows where the real problem lay with the practice of portraying Jesus with like the pagans imagined Zeus to look. It meant that the mindset of the people at the time continued with the same outward form of worshiping Zeus even though they had changed his name to “Jesus.” They began to think (in spite of what the early theological authorities taught) that God really did not mind Jesus being portrayed like a pagan god was painted or depicted. They failed to read the commands of God to the early Israelites that not only were pagan idols and images to be destroyed, but even PICTURES were also to be singled out for destruction. ‘You shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their PICTURES, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places” (Numbers 33:52). Even Paul warned Christians to “flee idolatry” (I Corinthians 10:14) and the apostle John commanded Christians to “keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21). But people of the fourth and fifth centuries were not only bringing PICTURES of Zeus right into their churches and homes, but they were beginning to call Zeus “Jesus.” This alarmed some of the Christian authorities.

Augustine, of the early fifth century (who has been considered the most influential theologian by both Catholics and many Protestants for the next thousand years), also had a warning about depicting God in human form.

“It is not to be thought that God the Father is circumscribed by human form It is unlawful to set up such an image to God in a Christian temple. Much more is it wicked to set it up in the heart where the temple of God truly is.”

see Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, vol.I p.875

But even this warning had little effect on Pagan-Christian people went right on with their image making (and even making false pictures and paintings of “Jesus” by portraying him to be like the pagan philosophers and Zeus).

What these later Christians failed to realize is that the calling of Zeus by the name “Jesus,” made it easier for the pagan doctrines and festivals of the heathen world to slip into the early Christian church. And the pagan teachings came in with a flood and Christianity got its present-day pagan elements from those corruption. Sadly, most Christians today seem to accept the same general philosophy of those who introduced Zeus as being the new “Jesus” of the fourth and fifth centuries. Christians today are prone to say: “There is no harm whatever in showing Jesus with long hair like the pagan gods.” They often say: “Why pay attention to the  Paul, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Theodorus Lector and the rest of those in late antiquity who condemned such pagan depictions of Jesus? Let us go right on and continue to display them in our churches because we feel there is nothing wrong in it.” That is the attitude of most theologians, preachers, priests, evangelists and even the majority of the Idolator church laity today! They want to retain this false image.

This attitude is the normal approach being expressed by Christians today whether in an active sense or remaining quiet in a passive way (not wanting to rock-the-boat over the many false evil doctrines in the church). Indeed, this was the exact attitude which was shown by many Christians in the fourth and fifth centuries when the pagan depictions of Jesus (and pagan doctrines and ideas) began to sweep into the Christian community.

The outcome of such a procedure in the fourth and fifth centuries resulted NOT in the overthrow of paganism, but in its retention as the religion of the Christian church. Though the pagan belief system came to be graced with Christian names rather than by the old heathen titles, it was paganism that continued to flourish, not the real Christianity as practiced by Nazarenes, Ebionites and followers of Arius. The same old Roman-Greeco paganism was revitalized into full bloom, but this time it was now dressed in Christian clothes. Cardinal to the issue was the transformation of Zeus (or Serapis) and the outward appearance of the pagan gods into a new portrayal of so-called “Jesus.”

And it is this “Jesus” (i.e. Zeus or Serapis) whom people now display in their churches, homes, in their Sunday and Sabbath School books, and even in their Bibles. They grace him with the name “Jesus,” but he is actually Zeus in human form -the chief of the pagan gods.

The First Heretics in the New Testament Used Such False Images

There was one central figure and his teachings that is singled out by Luke when he wrote the Book of Acts (under the direction of the apostle Paul) as one heretic that the Christian community in the future should pay close attention to. That man was Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-25). He was a Samaritan who was (on the surface) converted to Christ. By the time Luke finally wrote the Book of Acts, this man and his followers (though claiming to be Christians) had begun to teach doctrines that were utterly contrary to the teachings of the True followers of Hadhrat ‘Eesa alayhissalaam. The Christian fathers of the second, third and fourth centuries were almost totally united in calling him (and the philosophy that he established) as one of the heresy that was to deceive (and continued to deceive) the real Christians of the first few decades of the faith. The second century Christian scholar, Irenaeus, said that the Samaritan Simon was the very person “from whom all the heresies took their origin” (Contra Heresies, 1.23.2). The main point of Simon’s philosophy was to pretend to be a Christian, when he was not Just like Paul and Constantine who introduced Pagan doctrines of Salvation and so on (for details read this: How Paul Inducted Pagan Doctrines Into Christianity and Corrupted the True Teachings of Jesus [‘Eesa alayhissalaam])

There can hardly be a doubt that Irenaeus’ appraisal was correct. From then on to the time of Eusebius (and including the testimony of Eusebius himself), Simon is singled out as the originator of all the principal heresies that afflicted the Christian community in its first four centuries of existence. That is why he is given a prominent position in the Book of Acts (8:14-25). He was the one who originated what came to be called “Gnosticism,” and even scholars are now beginning to realize he was its author (this is shown in the historical study first published in French but now translated into English by Simone Petrement titled “A Separate God,” or “The Christian Origins of Gnosticism,” Harper/Collins, San Francisco, 1990).

What did Simon Magus introduce into the later teachings of Christianity?? Here is what the Gnostics (who had their origin with Simon Magus) began to do. Irenaeus said:

“They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world ; that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honoring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles”

(Contra Heresies, I.25.6).

But who was this “Christ” that these followers of Simon Magus were depicting with their images while they were still claiming to be Christians??

“He [Simon Magus] was glorified by many as a god; and he taught that it was he himself who, forsooth, appeared among the Jews as the Son, while in Samaria he descended as the Father, and in the rest of the world he came as the Holy Spirit [this is the first mention of the doctrine of a Trinity in Christian theology -Simon Magus originated the Trinity doctrine]. That he was the highest power, to wit, the Father over all, and that he allowed himself to be called by whatever name men pleased.”

Contra Heresies, 1.23.1

Simon Magus claimed to be the real Jesus Christ who was supposed to have been crucified in Judaea under Pontius Pilate. And masses of people began to believe his story. To the Gentiles he claimed to be none other than their chief of the gods, Zeus, and his followers made images of him looking like Zeus. He even commanded that statues be made of himself and a woman he found in ‘lyre by the name of Helen. They were claimed by Simon to be the male and female principles of divine power that the pagan nations then worshiped. Remarkably, Simon claimed these things (and got away with it in many circles) while advocating that he was a Christian. The ones that arose after him and Helen in the second century (and beyond) continued to make statues to Simon and Helen and used them in their worship to God.

“They [the Gnostics] also have an image of Simon made in the likeness of Jupiter[Greek: Zeus], and of Helen in that of Minerva [Greek: Athena]; and they worship the statues; and they have a designation from their most impiously minded founder, being called Simonians, from whom the Gnosis [knowledge], falsely so-called, derives its origins, as one can learn from their own assertions.”

Contra Heresies, 1.23.4

The early third century Christian scholar, Hippolytus, also referred to these heretics that were now calling themselves Christians.

“They have a statue of Simon in the form of Zeus, and one of Helen in the form of Athena [the Virgin], which they worship, calling the former Lord and the latter Lady. And if any among them on seeing the images, calls them by the name of Simon or Helen, he is cast out as one ignorant of the mysteries.”

Philosophumena, VI. 20

The simple truth is, the Simonians did not want Zeus and Athena to be called by their real names of Simon and Helen (the actual human beings who once lived on earth). They wanted those in their circle to give them high sounding theological and philosophical names. Simon claimed he was another appearance of Christ Jesus and that Helen was the “lost sheep” that Jesus spoke about in the Gospels. She was reckoned by Simon the Virgin Lady Athena, while Simon was the real Zeus (Latin: Jupiter) who displayed various outward ornaments of power with his long hair. This is one reason why Paul told the Corinthian Gentile men NOT to let their hair grow long!

These Gnostics who followed Simon Magus, Paul and Constantine though in the first three centuries they were outside the mainstream of what we call True Christianity of Nazarenes,Ebionites and Arius still referred to themselves as the real Christians who had the Knowledge of what True teachings of Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) was all about unlike the pagan-christians of present-day.

The Gnostics produced in the first three hundred years of Christian history many voluminous works, many of which have not come down to us today, although quite a great deal has been discovered and translated in the past forty years. They were the first ones to advocate that Jesus actually looked like Zeus in appearance and they made statues of him (and of Simon who claimed to be Christ, and Helen who was thought to be the Virgin Athena).

And what happened in the fourth century when Constantine came to power and the Christian community became part and parcel of the Roman Empire?? It was then that the orthodox section of Christianity also began to take up with the same type of general philosophy of Simon Magus — especially in his teaching of the Trinity, the Immortality of the Soul, and depicting Jesus in the likeness of Zeus (or Serapis who was the Egyptian version of Zeus) and showing Simon’s Helen as the Virgin.

This is one of the main reasons why Luke felt compelled to mention by name, the Idol-maker heretic Simon Magus. By the time Luke wrote the Book of Acts (somewhere near A.D. 66), the teachings about Simon and the “Virgin Lady” had already began to filter through many Christian circles and Luke (along with the apostle Paul who directed Luke in his writing of Acts) felt it was essential to identify the origin of the heretical nonsense that was developing within the Christian community (and what was to prevail) in the next four centuries.

And true to form, the teachings and philosophies of Simon Magus were those that finally conquered the Christian community from the time of Constantine onward. Because of this, the Christian world has been saddled with the images of Zeus (or his Egyptian counterpart, Serapis) as “Jesus” ever since. They were also introduced to Helen, who was the “Virgin Lady” (who finally developed into the statues of “Mary”). But the principal deity that was preferred the most was Serapis in his human form with long hair.

With the time of Constantine new type of JESUS began to he portrayed among the Christian population of the Roman Empire they took the style of grooming which was typical of the pagan gods and adopted it as their “JESUS he above drawing is from a bust in the British Museum of Sarapis. The Egyptian version of Zeus (the chief of the Gentile gods) See refrence Harper’s “Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities,” article “Coma.”

Let us now get down to the nitty-gritty of the whole issue. By substituting the image of Zeus for Jesus the people at the time continued to think of Zeus as their God (not the real Jesus of Bible). The Presbyterian minister from Wales, Peter Barnes, in his excellent booklet titled “Seeing Jesus — The Case Against Pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Banner of Truth publications, 1990) has the following illustration to show the nonsense of making another person to represent Jesus.

“Many Christians argue that it does not matter [if we show a wrong picture of Jesus]; we can picture Christ irrespective of whether the result is accurate or not. But it would be strange if a wife, when her husband was away, were to look continually at the photograph of another man, and then contend that it did not matter because she was thinking of her husband.”

p.4

Christian morons today substitute their “husband” for the picture of a false pagan god. What Constantine and his successors did was to introduce Zeus as their god, but calling him “Jesus.” As for Constantine, himself, what he first thought he saw in his visions  was the Sun God named Helios inspired by Shaitaan mardud. That is, he at first believed the person of his visions was “Helios” until he was told by certain Pagan- Christian theologians that his “Helios” was actually ” Jesus” of the New Testament and that the cross he saw in the sky before the Battle of Milvian Bridge (c. A.D.312) was “Christ’s cross” and not the sign of “Helios.” (Sol Invictus–the Invincible Sun).

It is because at this time in history there had been so much religious syncretism going on in identifying the various pagan deities [the phrase “religious syncretism” means the blending together of the various features of the multitude of gods that the gods themselves are molded into one, unified being]. Note the quote below given by Prof. Herrin.

“The cults of the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, those of Persia and lands further east, as well as those of Greece, made familiar in their Latin guise, engendered shrines, statues, and temples dedicated to Mithras and Serapis, Diana, Jupiter, Hecate, Isis, and the Phoenician Baal in different parts of the West. Under a powerful tendency to syncretism, many of these were worshipped together, as joint dedications to Zeus, Helios, Serapis, and Mithras record.”

The Formation of Christendom, Princeton University, 1989, p.21

Prof. Ferguson also informs us that the blending of the various heathen gods was widespread during the time of Constantine and Constantine himself was a Pagan sun-worshipper.

“The idea that all peoples worshiped the same gods under different names had long been held by the Greeks; syncretism in religion made it common in Roman times. Various deities were given the attributes of others, and this process was extended to merge the deities into one. The old polytheism was kept by regarding the deities as subordinate powers under the supreme god. Astral theologians contributed a new concept of the universe which identified this supreme god with the sun.”

Backgrounds of Early Christianity, Eerdmans, 1987, p.252

For a decade of years and more after claiming to be a Christian, Constantine was still minting coins showing “Helios” as the Invincible Sun and protector of his Empire (see Frend, “The Early Church,” Fortress, 1982, p. 137). He also ordered his army to devote their piety to God on Sunday, the day which was the pagan day in honor of the Sun (Also read: The Christian/Gregorian Calendar and its Pagan roots) . This was a reason why most Christians went over to keeping Sunday as their day of worship. Earlier Christians kept Saturday (the Sabbath of the Bible). Christians even commenced their observance of Christmas for the same reason (also read:December 25: The Pagan-Occult Origins of Christmas. Prof. Ferguson continues:

“The solar calendar introduced by Caesar and Augustus encouraged sun festivals, especially the birthday of the invincible sun — December 25. The popularity of this festival, the Saturnalia, in late pagan times appears to have been the decisive factor in the church’s choice of December 25 as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus.”

ibid., p.253

Since Macrobius, at the end of the fourth century, in his Saturnalia (I. 17.2ff), stated that all the various gods of the nations were simply powers or activities of the Sun, it was determined by most pagan theologians that all the pagan deities (along with the God of the Jews) were manifestations of the Sun and it would have been no surprise to Constantine that “Christ Jesus” was also such a manifestation at his vision before the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

This new type of “Jesus” originated within the fourth century when paganism adopted Christian names to describe their deities and this is the same Idols depicted in Pagan-Churches till the present-day. 

What is the West?? The Origins and Definition of Western Civilisation

[By Abdullah al Andalusi]

Introduction: Why is it important to understand and define ‘The West’??

The term ‘The West’, ‘The Western world’ and ‘Western culture’ are used quite widely by ‘Western’ politicians, media and academics to refer to the very specific phenomena of ‘Western Civilisation’. Most people who use the term ‘the West’, do so intuitively, and generally agree on who are the main Western countries and states.

However, there are times when some people challenge the label ‘the West’, and seek to dismiss its use – especially when faced with arguments criticising ‘The West’ for its collective history of colonial abuses, ongoing foreign military interventions, and the endless stream of cultural products it exports aggressively across the world.

Generally, most people would agree that England, France, Germany, USA, Canada and Australia are Western countries, while countries such as Nigeria, Turkey and South Korea are ‘Westernised’. Obviously ‘The West’ doesn’t just mean europe, otherwise Australia and USA wouldn’t be included – and Russia would be included.

But what does ‘Western’ mean, where did the term come from, and what definitive criteria can be use to determine what is ‘Western’, ‘Westernised’ and ‘non-Western’?
An understanding of the origins of the West, and what defines it, will decisively help to ascertain and predict its character and behaviour.

The Origins of the West: The Roman Empire

The discussion about the West begins with the Roman Republic (509BC-27BC). The Roman republic lasted until 27BC when its republican political system of elected representatives and unelected aristocrats was overturned by the rise to power of the military general Octavian who became Rome’s first Emperor, transforming Rome into an Empire. The Roman Republic already controlled many provinces around the Mediterranean that it had conquered before it transformed into an Empire. This is because Rome under elected representatives was no less warlike than when ruled under Emperors, in fact probably more so before the imperial period [1].

Between 274–148 BC, the Roman Republic never had a year where it wasn’t at war with other states – including against other republics, like Carthage.

While Western Civilisation certainly arose in Europe, many falsely assume that Western Civilisation is based upon the lands occupied by the Roman Empire, but this is historically inaccurate. The Romans didn’t see themselves as a european empire but more of an mediterranean empire (the word ‘mediterranean’ means in Latin: ‘middle of the Earth’). Rome wasn’t exactly European as there were many places in Europe that were unconquered and uncivilised to them, like the north western european territories outside roman control – which were populated by peoples the romans considered barbarians like Caledonia (Scotland), Hibernia (Ireland), or in the north, like Scatinavia (Scandinavia) and in the east, like Magna Germania (Germany/Poland). Furthermore, the Roman Empire was not a european Empire because it had numerous middle-eastern and north African possessions which were integral parts of it

image

The Roman Empire’s territories do not correspond with the modern ‘West’, nor Europe. The seeds of Western civilisation wouldn’t start in Europe, but in the middle-east. Rome’s acquisition of a middle-eastern province it called Judea, would later see the rise of an obscure middle-eastern religious sect that would later be called Christianity – which would have a seminal role in the creation of Western civilisation.

The Roman Occupied Province of Judea and Judaism

Roman Judea was situated upon the area formerly occupied by the Biblical Ancient Kingdom of Israel (1050–931 BC).

The Kingdom of Israel comprised the 12 tribes of Israel, a nation led out of slavery in Egypt, according to the Tanakh (Jewish scriptures/Old Testament for Christians) and the Quran, who were favoured by God to bear witness of monotheism to the world and righteousness under the law of Moses.

There are a number of archeological and biblical sources for the history of the 12 tribes of Israel, but dates and events are still speculative. However, what the Tanakh teaches, is that Moses took the 12 tribes of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness of Sinai. The 12 tribes constitute the 12 clans originating from the 12 sons of Prophet Jacob (Yaqub [a.s.]), who was given the name Israel [2].

While in the wilderness, Moses conveyed the Law of God he received from revelation (called the Law of Moses , or Mosaic Law ) and decreed the building of a mobile tent-shrine to the one God – the Tabernacle. Moses’ teachings are alleged to be incorporated into the ‘5 books of Moses’ (called the
Torah by Jews . The books that would come later would record the stories of Prophets, the history of the tribes of Israel, and the Prophetic kings that came after Moses. These texts would be gathered and added to the 5 books of Moses, and later called the Tanakh by Jews, or the Old Testament by Christians).

The 12 tribes were promised by Moses the land of Canaan (modern day Lebanon and Palestine) except [3] the Philistine city states (modern day Gaza) [4].

The Conquest of Canaan and the era of Judges

After 40 years of waiting in the wilderness as nomads and growing in strength, the death of Moses saw the 12 tribes begin a successful conquest of Canaan led by Joshua, who was given the title ‘Judge’ in the Tanakh. Each tribe was given an area to settle – except the tribe of Levi, who were to be the priest caste for the other tribes, and would dwell in the cities being paid a tithe by the others. The 12 tribes lived under a loose confederation under successive leaders called ‘Judges’ but were more than judges in the legal sense, and were considered as Prophets in the Tanakh. Judges arose amongst the 12 tribes to unite them to fight external enemies, and sometimes they would arise to revive Mosaic law and monotheism in the face of lapses by the 12 tribes.

Due to border wars with the Philistines, the loose confederation of 12 tribes demanded a King over them, and were united into the Kingdom of Israel by Prophet Samuel (a.s.) under the King Saul (1050BC). Saul was later deposed by the Prophet Samuel due to allegedly not following God’s commands, and was replaced as King by David (1010BC), from the Israelite tribe of Judah.

The Jewish Concept of the Kingdom of God

The lands of Israel were described in the Tanakh as ruled by God, who would be its King [5]. During the time of the Judges, the Judges would direct the tribes of Israel by God’s judgements. After the beginning of kingship, the King was considered the deputy of God, and would rule Israel on His behalf according to Mosaic law. Courts would be set up and to judge by Mosaic law [6]- where even the King would be held accountable and deposed upon serious breach.

Mosaic law was a complete way of life for its time, guiding personal spiritual rituals, personal virtues to economic transactions, structure of Jewish society, laws and state. The Jewish understanding of the Kingdom of God, was an earthly Kingdom that established justice and the worship of God on earth.

The Prophet Kings of Israel
King David (Dawud alaihissalaam.) conquered the city of Jebus from the Jebusite tribe of Canaan [7], after which it is eventually renamed Jerusalem (as well as ‘The City of David’, and ‘Zion’) . After the passing of David, his son, Solomon [Sulayman alaihissalaam] becomes king of the Kingdom of Israel (970BC to 931BC), and builds its temple to the One god in Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Israel continued until Solomon’s (Sulayman alaihissalaam) death (931BC), where it split, with 10 tribes forming the northern Kingdom of Israel (centered around their capital of Samaria) and two tribes, the tribes of Benjamin and the dominant tribe of Judah forming the southern Kingdom of Judah (with the tribe of Levi, or Levites, moving to them shortly after), centered around their capital of Jerusalem.

image

The Northern kingdom of Israel was eventually conquered by the Assyrian Empire (720BC), and is portrayed in the Tanakh as being conquered as divine retribution for its sins and turning to idolatry. It’s ten tribes were exiled by the Assyrians and became known as the ‘ten lost tribes of Israel’ .

It was from the remaining Kingdom of Judah, which was dominated by the Judah Tribe, that the word ‘Judaism’ and ‘Jew’ originate from, i.e. the religion of the people of Judah.

Destruction of the Kingdom of Judah and the beginning of the era of Occupation

The Babylonians eventually conquered the Assyrians, and then took the southern kingdom of Judah in 587BC – destroying the first temple of Solomon – and taking the Jewish population as slaves into exile in Babylon.

The Babylonians were then conquered in turn by the Achaemenid Persians under ‘Cyrus the Great’ (539BC), who allowed the Jews to return back to Canaan and rebuild their (second) temple in Jerusalem. The Jews were given the region around Jerusalem as an autonomous region within the Achaemenid Persian empire, called Yehud Medinata. The Persians were then in turn conquered by Greeks led by Alexander III of Macedon, or ‘Alexander the great’ (331BC) which spread Greek culture (called Hellenism by historians) and Greek language throughout the eastern part of the mediterranean and the middle east, which would later have a decisive impact on creating the borders of Western civilisation .

Alexander’s greek empire split after his death (323BC) and was divided by his generals. Alexander’s General Seleucus eventually took control of the area from modern day Turkey and the Levant (Palestine/Syria) to modern-day Pakistan. This would be the later called the Seleucid Empire. It would clash with Rome in greece, and later crumble and fall to Parthian Persians invading from the East.

Under Seleucid rule, there were many Jews who adhered to the laws of Moses and the belief in one God, and strongly preserved the teachings of their ancestors against the ‘modern’ pagan Hellenism that dominated the Middle-East and eastern mediterranean. However, many Jews became Hellenised and adopted Greek culture, and even greek pagan religions.

The end of occupation, and the establishment of the Kingdom of Judea

In 167BC, the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes ordered that non-Hellenised Jews were forbidden from practicing their religion, laws and culture, and were ordered to adopt Hellenistic religion, customs and laws. This caused a revolt amongst Jews, called the Maccabean Revolt, which lasted 7 years and pitted Jews against collaborators amongst the ‘Hellenised Jews’ and and Seleucid authorities. The revolt eventually lead to a victory from the Jewish forces, and the establishment of the Kingdom of Judea (160BC-63BC). Hellenistic Pagan temples were torn down and the temple of Solomon was cleansed of idolatry and re-dedicated to the one God (which Jews still celebrate today as Hanukkah) [8].

The Kingdom of Judea was independent for almost 100 years and expanded its borders during this time. However, Hellenism still was a potent political and cultural force, and Jewish society was split into a number of factions or political parties, with some based upon the preservation of Jewish tradition and the rejection of hellenism, and others who had a mild accommodation to hellenistic culture and philosophy. The three main factions were the Pharisees (Jewish traditionalists), Sadducees (aristocratic and inclined to hellenist philosophy, which, for example, denied the existence of an afterlife) and the Essenes (ascetics) [9].

Beginning of the Roman Occupation of Judea

In 63BC a civil war in the Kingdom of Judea allowed the Roman Republic an excuse to intervene.

Jerusalem was then conquered by the Roman general ‘Pompey the Great’ in 63BC, and the Kingdom of Judea became a client state of Rome with puppet figurehead rulers (known to be oppressive and silence political dissent), like King Herod. In 6BC, the puppet ruler Archelaus was made ruler of Judea by Roman approval, but was even more unpopular than his predecessors. This led to Rome deposing the ruler and turning the Kingdom of Judea into a Roman province under direct Roman rule from 6AD onwards.

Roman occupation and taxation caused the rise of two new factions, the Zealots (followers of Pharisee intent, but actively opposed to Roman occupation and paying taxes to them), and another faction faction or group, known as the Sicarii (Greek, ‘dagger men’), a group of violent individuals, who undertook extreme violent actions against Romans and Jews identified as tax collectors and collaborators.

The Coming of Hadhrat ‘Eesa (alaihissalaam) (Jesus)

The factionalism between the Jewish movements increased, and over the centuries since the time of Solomon (Sulayman alaihissalaam) the understanding of Judaism had become stale, with blind adherence to doctrines and laws of Moses, lacking nuance and subtlety in places. The laws of personal conduct and jurisprudence had over the centuries become overly-complex and prescriptive, becoming cumbersome and leading to contradictions beyond the law’s original intent. On the other extremes, many Jews had succumbed to greek philosophy and adopted corruptions into Jewish theology (like denial of an afterlife or a continuing soul), while others adopted asceticism and complete separation from worldly life.

Into this milieu came Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam), an alleged carpenter by trade, and raised in Nazareth (Galilee, north of Judea). He claimed receipt of divine revelation and that he was the prophesied Messiah (from Hebrew, ‘anointed one’) that would come and lead Israel to follow the commands of God, establish justice and vanquish its enemies. It is believed he (alaihissalaam) preached throughout Judea, correcting the superficial and over-complicated understanding and practice of the law held by the Pharisees, returning the understanding to the original practice of the time of Musa (alaihissalaam) (Moses).

Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) also is alleged to have argued against the corrupt greek-influenced theology of the Sadducees, and lived a life amongst the community and not separate from it, like the Essenes.

However, although it is believed by many historians today that Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) was executed by Romans at the initiation of Jewish colonial authorities, however the New Testament’s collection of books and the Qur’an declares that he was seen alive and well after his alleged crucifixion (the Qur’an argues he wasn’t killed). According to both sources, Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) was later raised up to heaven and believed will return to fulfill his mission in the future.

Since the raising up of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) from the earth, (speculated around 27AD), the disciples of Jesus [‘Eesa alaihissalaam) formed a Council in Jerusalem, capital of the roman province of (occupied) Judea.

These individuals were considered practicing Jews for all intents and purposes and some historians go as far as to call them, at this juncture, a sect of Judaism. This Jewish sect followed the teachings of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) which attested that the promised Jewish Messiah had come, and were devout Jews adhering to the laws of Moses (Musa alaihissalaam). They became known by others Jews as the ‘ Notzrim’ (Hebrew: Nazarenes, the people of Nazareth, or ‘Nazoraioi’ in Greek).

The decline of the Nazarenes and the birth of Roman/Hellenic Christianity

After the disappearance of Jesus (‘Eesa Maseeh alaihissalaam), Saul of Tarsus, arose to prominence in the new Jewish sect of Nazarenes. Known later as “St Paul”, Saul was a rabbinical student, tent maker and Roman citizen . He was a follower of the Jewish Pharisee school of thought, who initially persecuted the Nazarenes, but later claimed he had a vision of Jesus and converted to the new sect on the way to Damascus.

Paul’s charisma combined with his Roman citizenship and knowledge of Greek, Roman culture and Greek philosophy, allowed him to take a leading role in preaching to Gentiles (i.e. non-Jews) and he described himself as ‘a Messenger to the gentiles’ [10]. Paul preached a message to gentiles of faith and spirituality, but played down the importance of the law of Moses (Musa alaihissalaam) – which guided Jews in their personal, social and political lives.

Some scholars would later argue that Paul attempted to make the teachings of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) more appealing to Gentiles, by not requiring any strict rules. Furthermore, Paul preached a decidedly passive and submissive doctrine, commanding people to pay their taxes to Rome, that Israelites be apolitical and wait for the return of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam), and for slaves to be obedient to their masters without complaint. Paul’s ‘interpretation’ on the new sect of Judaism would be more preferable to the Romans and Greeks than the Mosaic social and political way of life that had been causing Jewish uprisings against Roman occupation.

Paul’s ‘Kingdom of God’ would no longer be an earthly kingdom, as Moses (Musa alaihissalaam) understood it, but Paul would reinterpret it to be purely a ‘spiritual kingdom’ that exists only in ‘hearts’ and in the future world of the coming of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam).

It is recorded in the works of Paul, a new Greek-based name for followers of the new Jewish sect: Christians (Greek: Christianoi , followers of Christ , the Greek word for Messiah [11]).

Paul’s virtual abrogation of the law of Moses (Musa alaihissalaam), saw him come to blows with the council of Jerusalem over whether the Law of Moses (Musa alaihissalaam) should be followed by Gentiles or not. His teachings were notably submissive to the current political authorities, and his ‘understanding’ of the teachings of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) became the most influential, despite Paul never having known Jesus or learned from his companions. Centuries later, 14 of the 27 books of the modern Christian New Testament would be composed entirely of his alleged writings alone. He died in Rome, having supported Peter in setting up a Christian community there.

A number of Jewish revolts against Rome rule failed, leading to the destruction of the second temple in 70AD by the Romans. 60 years later another failed and disastrous Jewish revolt called the Bar Kokhba revolt (132 AD – 135 AD) led to the Romans destroying the province of Judea, killing and exiling many of the jewish inhabitants. The Romans then renamed Judea to an ancient name for the region ‘Palaestina’, and merged the Roman province of Judea with the Roman province of Syria to create a new province called ‘Syria Palaestina‘. At the decree of Emperor Hadrian, Jews were banned from the city of Jerusalem, which was rebuilt and renamed ‘Aelia Capitolina’ and became a purely pagan capital.

After the destruction of Judea in 130AD, the character of Christianity became dominated by non-Jewish (Gentile) communities of Christian believers called ‘churches’ (from Greek ‘Ecclesia’: assembly) who were spread throughout the areas of the Mediterranean.

After 130AD, the centre of gravity of Christianity shifted from Jerusalem to the Church in Rome, which began to rise in prominence due to being in the capital of the Roman Empire. The Christian community in Rome was founded allegedly by Peter (a disciple of Jesus [‘Eesa alaihisalaam]who is reported to have come to Rome, and was killed by Emperor Nero around 67AD) and later supported by Paul.

However, Christianity began to be viewed with distrust throughout the Roman Empire, leading to many persecutions and killings of Christians lasting on-and-off for over two hundred years.

Christians were suspected of not being loyal to Rome and the Emperor, not participating the Roman political system or military, and holding ideas that threatened traditional roman values and beliefs.

During this time, the beliefs of Christian communities were written down, with each community writing its own version of Jesus’s (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) teaching and life – called Gospels (Greek: Evangelion, good news), other writings included history of the companions of Jesus (‘Eesa alaihissalaam) or the early churches, and other writings featuring visions later Christians claim they had received about the future (called Apocalyses from the Greek word for ‘revelation’).

Centuries later, these Gospels would be gathered up, with some being discarded, and others being chosen depending on whether or not they agreed with Christian beliefs held by the majority (who were Pagan Greeks/Romans).

Eventually these were compiled into a compilation later to be called ‘the New Testament’ (The Jewish Tanakh was then referred to as the Old Testament).

The Roman Empire Adopts Christianity

Eventually, Christianity persisted through the persecutions and continued to spread to the point it was patroned by the Roman Emperor Constantine – some historians say as a means to supplant his rivals, and use it to enforce order in a declining empire. Constantine issued the edict of Milan, in 313AD officially granting tolerance of Christianity.

Eventually, after support from following Christian emperors, under Emperor Theodosius I, in 380AD, Christianity was declared the only legitimate religion of the Roman Empire, and therefore the ‘Catholic ‘ Church (from Greek: katholikos, universal). In the years that followed, many pagans were forced to convert to Christianity or lose their positions, be threatened, or even killed.

The Christian Church at this point wasn’t hierarchical or strictly unified. It was composed of a scattered collection of Christian communities (churches) in different areas of the Roman Empire, each led by its own Bishop (from Greek ‘epískopos’, meaning overseer or guardian) and following various gospels or other writings.

Whenever a matter of doctrine or dispute was to be decided, the Roman emperor would summon the bishops of all the areas within the Roman empire to attend a council or synod, where each matter would be decided by voting. The Council of Nicaea in 325AD was one such example, convened by Constantine to decide the question of the divinity of Jesus by putting it to a vote, resulting in a majority voting for Jesus being declared one with God, and God himself, despite being opposed by a minority (an example of democracy in theology).

The Split of the Roman Empire into East and West

The adoption of Christianity did not prevent the continuingly endless civil wars, succession crises, constant barbarian invasions and gradual economic decline that wrecked the Roman Empire. After the death of Emperor Theodosius I, in 395AD, the Roman Empire split into two.

The Western half being roughly composed of Latin speakers, and the Eastern half of Greek speakers.

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The Eastern Roman Empire remained, and was later called by historians, the Byzantines, because Emperor Constantine moved the Roman capital to former Greek city of Byzantium, rebuilt it and renamed it Constantinople.

Despite this, the Eastern Roman Empire regarded themselves simply as ‘Romans’ and they viewed their lands as the continuing Roman Empire.

The Western Roman Empire continued to decline, and retreated from its northern territories in europe. The empire lasted (officially) until 4 September 476AD, when Rome was conquered and sacked by a barbarian invasion force led by Odoacer, which deposed the Roman emperor.

The traditions and practices of the West and Eastern churches would later gradually diverge over time, with communication becoming increasingly difficult and theological disagreements would arise due to translation differences, becoming more acute with the decline of the use of Latin and Greek in both areas.

In the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire, the tribes and nomadic hordes of Scatinavia and Germania, the Franks, Visigoths, Vandals, Lombards and Saxons burst into former Roman lands, rampaged and conquered and established a patchwork of new fiefdoms and kingdoms. The relatively uneducated and unsophisticated barbarian tribes couldn’t repair roman technology or buildings, and left them to slowly crumble. The places of learning fell into disrepair and the technological know-how of the romans was lost, which heralded in the what historians would call the european ‘Dark Ages’ . The Dark Ages were not a product of Christianity as some modern day Secularists falsely misrepresent, but rather the Dark Ages were an obvious and natural result of the collapse of the (Christian) Roman Empire and the usurpation of its lands by barbarian tribes!

The Eastern Roman Empire didn’t fall, and therefore managed to preserve all the learning and technology from the Roman Empire and never suffered under a ‘dark age’. The Dark Ages would only descend upon the remains of the Western Roman Empire setting the scene for what would come next.

The split in the Roman Empire into a Western Latin speaking half, and an Eastern Greek speaking half would set the course for the creation of the modern “West”. The surviving remnant of the fall of Rome, the Church of Rome would operate within the latin speaking half and cause subsequent transformations using a radically altered religion that was taken from the Middle-East into Europe and transformed into a hybrid of ancient semitic beliefs and Greeco-Roman philosophy and mythology.

This hybrid religion would then create a historical peculiarity over the next 1,000 years that would form Western Civilisation and make it distinct from all others.

Now, we look at what happened after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and how the last surviving institution, the Roman Church was vaulted into ascendency by the unwitting activity of a new rising civilisation – Islam.

The clash of the West European Christian Tribes with the Islamic Civilisation, would unleash forces that led to the birth of the West as a distinct civilisation. The rise of Islam would create the West.

The Fall of the Western Roman Empire and the ‘Barbarian’ Colonisation of Europe

The Western Roman Empire was crumbling economically and militarily, and began to withdraw from many areas of the Empire, in many places it ceded areas to barbarian tribes for settlement instead of resisting. However it was a matter of time before the complete collapse of the Western Roman Empire came.

After the sack of Rome to Alaric and his gothic army in 410AD, the city of Rome remained, although only a pale shadow of its former esteem.

The Gothic armies of Odoacer (a former Roman officer) deposed the last Western Roman Emperor in 476AD and Odoacer was declared first (‘Barbarian’) King of Italy. This formally ended the Western Roman Empire.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was overrun with barbarian tribes, from Germania – the Franks, the Lombards, the Visigoths, the Saxons, the Frisians and the Angles and Danes from Scandinavia.

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The native Gauls and Celts who had previously lived throughout western Europe under Roman power were christian and many Christian communities of the Western Roman Empire survived and adapted to their new pagan overlords (although some of the tribes were nominally Christian).

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Later on, the Eastern Roman Empire under Emperor Justinian (ruled 527AD-565AD) attempted to reconquer all the former Western Roman areas into a reunited Roman Empire, which met with some success, but eventually shrank back due to overstretched resources.

However, the Eastern Roman Empire managed to retain Rome, leaving a small garrison force to protect it. The city of Rome looked to the Eastern Roman Empire for its protection against the european barbarians. The Bishop of Rome attended the councils and synods of his fellow Bishops in the Eastern Roman Empire (who each head churches in Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople), but this didn’t last long.

The Rise of Islam & the Breakaway of the Church of Rome

Pressured by constant wars against the Persian Sassanid Empire and the invading Bulgars, the rise of Islam and the military defeats of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) armies, shrivelled up the Eastern Roman Empire, losing it North Africa, Egypt, the Levant and the islands of the mediterranean. Constantinople barely resisted a number of sieges by Caliph Muawiyah, relying on ‘greek-fire’ flamethrowers to fend off the Muslim forces.

The pressure of the barbarian Lombards invasions of Italy, and the loss of a significant amount of provinces to the Islamic Caliphate created a weakness and inability in the Eastern Roman Empire to protect the Italian peninsula. This prompted the Bishop of Rome to look towards the new germanic tribal overlords of Europe for protection. If the rise of the Islamic Caliphate hadn’t conquered the lands dominated by the Eastern Roman Empire, history would have taken a completely different turn.

The Roman Catholic Church finds new patrons

With the Roman Church free of the Eastern Roman Empire’s control, it used Rome as a base of operations to send missionaries and resources from the Catholic Church to convert the invading pagan tribes to Christianity and set up new communities and expand existing ones – leading to new Bishops and Churches being established throughout Europe. This task was made easier due to the fact that many of the invading tribes were already (nominal) Christians, and had earlier become Christian due to awe at the power and civilisation of the former Roman Empire.

The Bishops and clergy preserved Western Roman language (Latin) and a lot of Roman administrative methods, laws and codes. They offered their assistance and giving them religious-approved authority to the rule over the new Christian tribal kings and chiefs in return of protection and patronage. Over time, the invaders were latinised and their languages changed under the tutelage of Bishops and clergy who preserved many aspects of late Roman culture. This led to the adoption of many latin words into the languages of these new Christian tribes – leading to the languages that would eventually become French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, English and German. Eventually, conquest and increasing wealth from settlement and sedentary life led to the rise of bigger kingdoms in Western Europe.

In 800 AD,  Pope Leo III crowned the highly successful Frankish King, Charlemagne, as ‘Holy Roman Emperor’, conveying upon the church of Rome, the ability to spiritually approve and make Kings and heirs to the Roman Empire itself (which was strongly protested by the Empress Irene of the Eastern Roman Empire, and her successor Emperor Nikephoros I, who viewed themselves to be the only true continuation of the Roman Empire).

Charlemagne’s Frankish empire, called the Carolingian Empire – spanned modern-day France, Germany and Northern Italy, and had become powerful patrons of Roman Christianity, fighting Muslims in Spain (with limited results), conquering the Lombards in Italy, and forcing the Saxons in Germania to convert to Christianity or face death.

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The Carolingian Empire lasted until 846AD where it split into three parts between three sons of Frankish Emperor Louis ‘the Pious’ (840AD), Western Francia, Northern Italy and the third Kingdom over the area where is now modern Germany.

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The Frankish Kingdom ruling over the area where is now modern-day Germany (shown in pink on the picture above), expanded somewhat and later became another revived ‘Holy Roman Empire’ under King Otto I in 962AD (lasting in very different forms up until 1809).

While Bishops and Churches of the Eastern Roman Empire were puppets of the Emperor and lacked independence, however, the new political independence of Rome and its Church from the shrinking Eastern Roman Empire allowed the Bishop of Rome to act independently and decide theological doctrines outside of Eastern Imperial control. This would eventually lead to a schism between the Christian communities under the influence of the Roman Church (the churches of Western europe) and the prominent christian communities under the rule of the Eastern Roman Emperor.

Over the years many Bishops of Rome began increasingly claiming that they possessed preeminent authority in all earthly and spiritual matters – arguing that the foundation of christian communion (i.e. The Christian ‘ Ummah’), was upon St. Peter, who they argued was given the ‘keys to the Kingdom of Heaven’ [12]. The Bishops of Rome argued they were the direct successors of St. Peter, and therefore only they were inheritors to the same ‘powers’ and ‘authority’ allegedly first conveyed to St. Peter – possessing ‘rightful’ leadership of all the Christian communities throughout the world.

In the past, the Bishops of all the most prominent Christian communities were called ‘Popes’ (Greek: Father), however, the Bishop of Rome would now (according to itself) be the only one that could be called
Pope . In essence, the Bishop of Rome, gradually claimed pre-eminence until it declared that the Bishop of Rome alone could unilaterally decide Christian doctrine, rites, creed and canon law without strictly needing councils or synods.

In 1054, Pope Leo IX sent Cardinal Humbert to deliver a decree to the head Bishop (Patriarch) of Constantinople, Michael Cærularius. The decree not only claimed the supreme authority of the Pope of Rome, but also claimed that the Roman emperor Constantine had in centuries past ‘donated’ the Roman Empire to the Church of Rome (this was based upon an inauthentic and possibly deliberately forged document called ‘the donation of Constantine’). The mission ended badly and the decree was rejected and the Cardinal excommunicated (i.e takfir) the Eastern Christian Patriarch. This was met in response by a mutual excommunication from the Patriarch against Pope Leo IX. This began the West-East schism creating what is known today as the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Christendom – The first Consciousness of Western Civilisation

Conversion to Christianity from amongst the pagan european tribes had already begun under Roman Imperial rule from 4th century and continued progressively until 14th century.

However, it was the Roman Catholic encounter with Islam that would change Western Roman Christians forever, and inadvertently create the beginning of Western Civilisation as a separate civilisation all of its own.
The Roman Catholic Churches control over the tribes and kingdoms increased over time, but politically their patrons and influence were faced with an enemy it couldn’t easily conquer – the Islamic Civilisation.

Everywhere the Catholic Church looked, whether to the West in Iberia (modern-day spain/portugal), Sicily, North Africa, the Eastern Levant and beyond, all it could see was the lands of Islam.

This created a call of unity by the Catholic Church, to all Catholic Christians, would slowly gather pace around 11th century, leading to a new purpose for war, a Crusade from Latin cruciata , past participle of cruciare “to mark with a cross,”) against the ‘infidel’.

The settled tribes of Western europe had by now become established kingdoms and had warred against eachother. The creation of a new kind of war, a war based upon their Catholic Christian identity, and blessed by their religion, created a new awareness and consciousness in the world that had now become a distinct civilisation –
Christendom.

From [Pope] Gregory VII [d.1058AD] onward, christianitas and related words occurred much more frequently, and it is in that period that the term began to achieve its “true significance.” The heyday of christianitas coincided with the rise of the papal monarchy, and the idea of Christendom finally “triumphed” under the pontificate of [Pope] Innocent III [d.1216AD], perhaps the mightiest of papal monarchs.
This idea lay at the center of Innocent’s political outlook and actions. One finds the full articulation of the notion of christianitas in crusading chronicles, where the word was in common use. This is understandable once we realize that the concept of Christendom was the first to take shape among the various preconditions of the crusading movement—as well as the last to vanish. A precondition of the crusade, the concept of Christendom was realized with the crusade. The launching of the crusade can be seen as marking the symbolic point when Christendom became “a living reality,” when it was transformed into what could be called a society.
“Christendom (and the idea of Christendom) found its most potent expression in the crusade; the crusade exalted Christendom, carried it to its highest point of fervor.” Christendom and the crusade came into existence together: They were “made together, in a reciprocal creation.” (13)

It comes as no surprise then, that the earliest surviving record we have today of the use of the word ‘christianitatis’ to mean ‘Christendom’ as the dominions of (Roman Catholic) Christians, occurs in a chronicle of an unnamed crusading warrior from the first Crusade:

“Turci inimici Dei et sanctae christianitatis” [The (Muslim) Turk is an enemy of God and Holy Christendom] (14)

In effect, the medieval Catholic Church created Christendom by radicalising the Catholic Christian peoples of Europe against Islam.
Up until now, the Catholic Church’s political power was limited to only rubber stamping Catholic kings and rulers and demanding their christian populations obey them.

However, the call to crusade and the ability to regularly launch wars under its instigation – attracting volunteers from both the peasant and noble classes across the Catholic kingdoms – gave the church a degree of ascendency over all the Catholic Kings. The new consciousness and civilisation of Christendom that spanned the Western European kingdoms and transcended their borders, would now be led by the Catholic Church.

The first incarnation of the something approximating the modern-day West, and its precursor, was ‘Christendom’. This concept referred to all lands dominated or ruled over by Christians from the Western Roman Church, Roman Catholicism, and did not generally include the Eastern Orthodox Church or lands of its followers.

As Europe came into the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, the Swedes, and Danes converted to Catholic Christianity as did the rest of Scandinavia and eastern Germany. Viking raiders settled in west Francia on condition of converting to Christianity, andwere called Normans (from latin Normanni, from the old Frankish word Nortmann, which mean ‘North men’). The region is now called Normandy.

Further East, the Slavs and peoples of Novgorod (later Russia) converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

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The region in the above illustration, marks the schism between the West Roman Church (Roman Catholicism) and the Eastern Roman Church (Eastern Orthodox Christianity).

The Catholic Kingdoms of Denmark, Poland and Sweden (and two Germanic Knight orders) launched crusades in the 13th-14th century to spread Christianity and force convert the Pagans to the East, however Catholic crusades weren’t only reserved for pagans and Muslims. Pope Gregory IX endorsed Northern Crusades in 1242 against the Eastern Orthodox Christian Kingdom of Novgorod (modern day Russia), which ended in defeat for the Catholics. These campaigns are now called the ‘Northern Crusades’.

The lands under control of Roman Catholic Christians by 14th century, or Christendom , set the basis the region that would be later collectively called ‘the West’, and form the lands whose descendants would later be called ‘Westerners’.

A Brief Note on Eastern Roman Empire and the Islamic Civilisation’s Perspective towards Christendom

Since the split of the Roman Empire into two parts, the Eastern Roman Empire had always referred to the other half as fellow Romans. When the Western Roman Empire was overrun by barbarians, the barbarians were obviously not considered Romans, but after the later latinisation of their culture due to the work of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Roman Empire called them ‘Latinikoi’ (Greek: Latins ). It should be borne in mind, that the Eastern Roman Empire considered only themselves as the surviving continuation of the Roman Empire, and called themselves ‘Rhomaioi’ (Greek: Roman). The new ‘Latins’ of the West, were merely viewed as latinised barbarians who ruled over the conquered lands they took from the Roman Empire, and inherited and imitated some of the old culture from a dead part of the Roman Empire mixed with their own – and so could never truly be Roman themselves.

The Islamic Civilisation had conquered the germanic tribe Visigoths and ended their occupation of Iberia, but later encountered border clashes with the Catholics of Asturias in the mountainous area of northern Iberia (Al Andalus). Muslims had also fought against Normans invading Sicily. However, Muslims of the time did not perceive of Christendom as a united force, nor a separate civilisation.

This was going to change after the Crusades, when Muslims observed Christians from all over Western europe were flocking into armies directed at the Islamic Levant. But this didn’t prompt Muslims to lump all Christians together – they still differentiated between Eastern Romans, native Middle Eastern Christians, and the warlike newcomers from Western Europe.

The Christian Eastern Romans were simply called ‘Al Rum’ and their Greek language was called ‘Al Rumi’, and the Christians living in Islamic lands were simply called ‘Christians’ or Nassara (Arabic for Nazarenes).

The closest name invented by Muslims for the people of Christendom (Western European Catholics), was a word coined from their most prominent and most encountered ethnic group, Al Franji (Arabicised word for Franks). This was probably because the Frankish empires of Europe were the most prominent Catholic power for most of the middle ages, and to Muslims, were the most prominent of the people they encountered from that region

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[1] For more information about the aggressive expansionism of the Roman Republic, and a philosophical discussion on why republics are prone to war, read ‘Imperialism In Republican Rome: 327-70 B.C’ (1985, William V. Harris)

[2] The true meaning of the name is disputed amongst historians. Some think it means to ‘rule by God’s authority’, others think it refers to something along the lines of ’success given by God’, or ‘prevailed by God’.

[3] The Philistines are absent on the list of tribes that were commanded to be destroyed by the 12 tribes of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1, 20:17 )

[4] The modern word Palestine is speculated to be derived from Philistine or the Ancient Egyptian word ‘Peleset’ (1100BC-800BC) as the oldest word for south part of Canaan.

[5] “(God’s) throne, to be king for the Lord thy God” (2 Chron. 9:8; 1 Chron. 28:5; 29:23)

[6] Exodus 18:13-26, Deuteronomy 1:9-16, Deuteronomy 17:8-20

[7] 1 Chronicles 11:4-5

[8] 2 Maccabees 6:1–11 (Tanakh/Old Testament, Bible)

[9] For more information, read the account of Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:1: http://sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/ant-18.htm

[10] Romans 15:16

[11] This term is derived from the Greek translation of the Hebrew work Messiah Christós, the anointed one

[12] Matthew 16:13-19 (New Testament, Bible)

[13] Crusading Peace Christendom, the Muslim World, and Western Political Order, Tomazˇ Mastnak, 2002

[14] Gesta Francorum VI,xiii.