Click to View

Islam Is Repackaged Polytheism: Documentation

Eclecticism in Islam, Arthur Jeffery, 1922

(from, The Muslim World, Volume 12 (1922), pp. 230-247)

Click to ViewOther Books and Articles by Arthur Jeffery

Click to View

Islam: Truth or Myth? start page



Eclecticism in Islam

Arthur Jeffery

Eclecticism has been a fairly frequent phenomenon in the history both of Philosophy and of Religion. We can almost regard it as an inevitable stage in the history of every movement of thought which loses contact with the vital impulse which gave it birth. In some cases it has been due to the process of exhaustion; the thought movement finding no further source of life and power in itself seeks to supply the deficiency by drawing outside sources. In other cases it is due to disconnection; the movement, being cut off from contact with its own source of life, seeks to fasten itself upon others. In either case the stage of Eclecticism is only one, stage from death.

Historically the most famous case of Eclecticism is that in Greek philosophy, when after the waning of the post-Aristotelian systems such a movement appeared and reigned till, after the final flicker of Neo-platonism, Greek Philosophy went out in the dark night of scholasticism. In this case it was due to exhaustion. Three hundred years of intense and abundantly fruitful thinking in Greece culminated in the system of Aristotle. That was its maturity, and we can watch the life force declining though the systems of subjectivism known as Stoicism, Epicureanism, Scepticism till in the Eclectic period we find that the disputes of Academic and Peripatetic, Stoic and Epicurean, Pyrrhonist and the leaders of the New Academy, resulted in their agreements being made prominent and their differences softened, and the reigning philosophy became a patchwork of them all. "As intellectual vigour wanes," writes Stace,1 "there is always the tendency to forget differences, to rest, as the Orientals do, in the good natured and comfortable delusion that all religions and all philosophies really mean much the same thing. Hence Eclecticism became characteristic of the schools."

This spirit was greatly stimulated by the Romans, for they had had no share in the real life that gave birth to Greek Philosophy, and their practical nature made them impatient of the subtle metaphysical distinctions of the schools. We are told that the hard-headed, pro-consul Gellius was so assured that their trifling disputes could be easily settled by a little tactful management, that, though no philosopher himself, he urged the Athenian philosophers to come to a compromise, and offered to mediate between them himself.

But even the compromises of the schools were insufficient to restore the decaying vitality of Greek philosophy, and new life was sought by incorporating Oriental elements The old religion of the Greco-Roman world was practically dead; the old philosophy had sought, in the post-Aristotelian systems, to become a religion, but had not succeeded, so a flood of Eastern cults was allowed to flow in.2 The Egyptian faith of Isis; the Thraco-Phrygian cult of Attis, of Sabazius, of Cybelle; the Persian religion of Mithra, all had their following, and as Glover says,3 "it was not merely Gods that came from the East but a new series of religious ideas ... They orientalized every religion of the West and developed every superstitious and romantic tendency. In the long run, they brought philosophy to its knees, abasing it to be the apologist of everything they taught and did,- and dignifying themselves by giving a philosophic colouring to the mysticism."4

That there was a new source of life here, Neo-platonism is a witness,5 but though it gave a brilliant flash Plotinus, and showed a dim glow in Proclus and Pophyry, it quickly died away in the astrology and magic of Iamblicus. This was necessarily so, for the future belonged to Christianity which had come with a new source of life and power which the dying Paganism refused to consider.

In Jewish thought we have a similar period of Eclecticism, almost contemporary with that of Greek Philosophy, and largely indebted thereto. The solitary figure representing it is the Alexandrian Jew, Philo. In the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, cut off from the old associations of Palestine and in touch with the great movements of Gentile thought, Judaism began to lose its distinctiveness and thereby its vitality, and Philo's attempt to infuse energy was by an Eclecticism wherein he sought to blend Plato and Moses, crude Hebrew theology and subtle Greek metaphysics. The system was still-born.

We meet with the same phenomenon in Buddhism. The origin of the two great Schools is wrapped in obscurity, but it is clear that by the time the Indian monk Padmasambhava migrated to Tibet in the reign of Sron de Tsan, the Mahayana School had exhausted the primitive force of the movement, and was living by the incorporation of external religious forces. The Southern School, the Hinayana, has kept fairly close to the agnostic philosophy of the Buddha himself, and still preserves a more or less moribund existence, but the flourishing school is the Northern, which has been able to flourish because it has drawn into its system numerous practices of primitive animism, and borrowed largely from Hinduism, and later from Christianity.6 So much is this so, that in modern Mahayana Buddhism it is often difficult to find where the peculiarly Buddhist elements are. Writing of the Buddhism of Tibet, popularly known as Lamaism, Waddell says,7 "Primitive Lamaism may therefore be defined as a priestly mixture of Sivaite mysticism, magic and Indo-Tibetan demonolatry overlaid by a thin varnish of Mahayana Buddhism, and to the present day Lamaism still retains this character." The same may be said of popular Buddhism in China and Japan, and though there has been a big infusion of Hinayana Buddhism, the same holds good of it in modern Burma8. It is obvious, that this eclectic stage is only one remove from the death of Buddhism altogether in the Northern School.

Early Gnosticism was an attempt at an eclectic movement in Christianity, made by men who had realized the epoch-making nature of the new faith but had not entered into its spirit and knew nothing of its experiences.9 But Gnosticism had a short history.10 "The first attempt," says Windelband11 "which the Gnostics made to create an adequate view of the world for the new religion, proceeded from the excited phantasies of a Syrian mingling of religions and, in spite of the employment of Hellenist philosophemes, led to such grotesque constructions, that the Church as it grew stronger and more definitive was obliged to reject them." The most striking eclectic movement in Christian history, however, is the modern movement called Theosophy, a weird conglomeration of Hinduism, Buddhism, Neo-platonism, Gnostic speculation, magic and psychism, with a faint odour of Christianity about the whole.12

This movement was begun and is mostly carried on people who had lost touch with Christianity as a personal religious experience, and failing to find life in the external forms, sought religious satisfaction in a gorgeous patchwork of many faiths in which each adherent lays the emphasis where he will. How little of genuine Christianity remains in it is evident from a perusal of Mrs. Besant's "Esoteric Christianity," or Mr. Leadbeater's "The Christian Creed," and his recent articles in "The Theosophist."

The corresponding movement in Hinduism is the Brahma Samaj, which Dr. Farquhar consider's the most influential of all the religious movements of the nineteenth century.14 Its founder, Ram Mohan Ray, though a Brahman by birth, was profoundly influenced by Sufiism, and later by the Christian missionaries at Serampore, but the fully eclectic nature of the movement is best seen in the third and greater leader, Keshab Chandra Sen, whose Service Book for Samaj meetings, the Slokasangraha, was a collection of texts from Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Mohammedan and Chinese scriptures.15 It was a movement brought to birth by the conflict of East with West in the realm of intellect, and still is an attempt of educated Hindus to find relief from the impossibilities of the faith of their childhood but how little Hinduism there really is in it is evident from a perusal of S. Sastri's "History of the Brahma Samaj",16 and how little real religious spirit remains" in it, is seen from the activities of its present day champions.17 But eclecticism is not only characteristic of the Brahma Samaj, it is equally so of all the modern reform movements which attempt to stay the spiritual decay within Hinduism. We have only space here to refer to the work of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who taught that all religions were paths leading to the same goal.18 Dr. Farquhar reproduces a picture caused to be painted by him,19 which has for background three buildings, a Christian Church, a Mohammedan Mosque and a Hindu Temple, while in the foreground we see Christ dancing with Chaitanya before a group of religious devotees, Hindu, Moslem, Sikh, Parsee, a Chinese Confucian and an Anglican Curate, and to the left we find Ramakrishna himself pointing out the group to Keshab Chandra Sen and explaining to him the Unity of Religions.

When we turn to Islam, the question at once arises as to whether Islam as a whole is not an eclectic system. Arnold's words are well known - "Islam was born in the desert, with Arab Sabeanism for its mother, and Judaism for its father; its foster nurse was Eastern Christianity," and the investigations of European scholars since then have only served to make this clearer. One rises from the perusal of Geiger's "Judaism and Islam,"20 and St. Clair Tisdall's "Original Sources of the Qur'an,"21 feeling the full justice of Dr. Zwemer's conclusion, that Islam "is not an invention, but a concoction; there is nothing novel about it except the genius of Mohammed in mixing old ingredients in a new panacea for human ills and forcing it down by means of the sword.22

But was this a real eclecticism? It is undoubtedly true that Mohammed carried over into his system numerous beliefs and practices of the Pagan Arabs, e.g. the reverence for the Black Stone and the ceremonies of the Pilgrimage to Mecca. It is true also that for most of his eschatology he was indebted to Sabaeanism and Zoroastrianism,23 and that he borrowed many legends from the Jewish Talmud and Christian Apocryphal Gospels. We may even go so far as to say that if we cut out what he borrowed from the "People of the Book" there is little left of Islam save its faults; but even so, was there not a great original force in Islam which was independent of, though it made use of these elements? There can be no doubt that this is so. Whether we agree with Becker and Caetani, that the life-force of the movement was political and economic rather than religious or with Macdonald agree that it was definitely religious, there is no doubt that there was a considerable living force there which was original and not dependent on the elements taken up into it.

It is not strange that this living force of Islam took up elements from the religious life of its day. Christianity did exactly the same thing. The man who takes up the Greek Gospels after a period of close and exclusive study of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Rabbinical writings, has no hesitation in declaring that Christianity is no mere offshoot of Judaism. Here is an entirely new irruption of religious life, and yet the amount of Jewish religious thought taken up it is obvious to the casual reader.

Outside the New Testament, Greek influence is as obvious in the formulation of the theology of the growing Church as Roman influence is on the development of its organization24, and it is Dr. Clemen's thesis in his "Primitive Christianity and its non-Jewish Sources,"25 that "like the Israelitish and Jewish religion, whose influence is itself evident, other religions have also left the mark on the oldest form of Christianity, even when it felt itself in the keenest antagonism to them." It is no wonder that Christianity should take over pagan festivals such as Christmas and Easter, and Christianize them, or that it should accept Greek thought and Roman organization and adapt them to her ends, for as Dr. Angus26 -

"Christianity brought a harmony for the burdensome antinomies that age. Revelation confirms the truth of natural religion and reason and added something indispensable. Christianity was the synthesis of all the authority for the truths proclaimed by all systems. It elevated abstract monotheism of Greece the henotheistic monotheism of oriental cults, the deistic monotheism of Judaism into a universal spiritual Fatherhood; it corrected abstract monotheism by the truth of polytheism that the Godhead is not simple and jejune, but has in itself a rich and manifold life; it blended the immanence, of pantheism with the transcendence of scepticism, mysticism and Hebrew thought; it glorified the human sympathy of Oriental cults through the historic life and death of a "Man of Sorrows."

Yet Christianity was not an eclecticism for as Angus immediately goes on to say - "Christianity gave what the world most needed - the driving power of personality and it was this spiritual driving power that took and used the elements it found around it, though it was ever far and independent of them."

It is so in Islam. The original force, whether political or religious, was this spiritual power of a personality; as happens, it expressed itself in terms of what it could draw from its environment, but its source was not there, and had they been absent it would have expressed itself in other terms. In its origin it is not an eclecticism, in sense of that term.

But unlike that of Christianity, the driving power of Islam has never been very enduring. Backed up by political or other aspirations, it has at various times spurted forth anew and continued vigorously for a while, but as a purely religious force it was soon spent. Among the Arabs themselves, with whom it had its birth, as a religion, it exercised very little influence. Sir Richard Burton, who knew the Bedouin well, writes - 27

"Mohammad and his followers conquered only the more civilized Bedawin; and there is even to this day little or no religion among the wild people, except those on the coast or in the vicinity of cities. The faith of the Badawi comes from Al-Islam, whose hold is weak. But his wants are still those of his ancestors, cherished ere Meccah had sent forth a Prophet, and likely to survive the day when every vestige of the Ka'abah shall have disappeared."

And his testimony could be paralleled by that of others who knew them as well, or even better, and from writers on the state of Islam among non-Arab peoples28. As a religion, even since the first outburst, Islam has had to gain it renewal of strength by eclecticism. Only a few examples of this are possible within the limits of this article but, they are important and typical.

Let us first take the Pythagoreans of Islam29, the politico-philosphico body founded by Abdallah ibn Maimun, and known in the tenth century as the Faithful Brethren of Basra. This curious School was obviously an attempt to find some real religious satisfaction which was not to be found in orthodox Islam. Theirs was a religion of consolation and redemption in which they aimed at the assimilation of the soul to God, so far as this is possible for man, and orthodox Islam could not, as ordinarily interpreted, help them to this. Their objection, as de Boer points out30 was to reach another interpretation:

"No doubt Christianity and the Zoroastrian faith appeared to the Brethren to be more religious revelations." "Our Prophet, Mohammed," they said, "was sent to an uncivilized people, composed of dwellers in the desert, who neither possessed a proper conception of the beauty of this world, nor of the spiritual character of the world beyond. The crude expressions of the Koran, which are adapted to the understanding of that people, must be understood in a spiritual sense by them who are more cultured."

This new interpretation which should give them the "proper conception of the beauty of this world" and "the spiritual character of the world beyond," was necessarily sought in other religions with which they were acquainted and resulted in an eclectic system. As de Boer says -31

The Brethren themselves avow their eclecticism. They wish to collect the wisdom of all nations and religions. Noah and Abraham, Socrates and Plato, Zoroaster and Jesus, Mohammed and 'Ali are honoured as early martyrs of their rational faith.32 The religious law in the literal sense is pronounced good for the ordinary man, a medicine for weak and ailing souls; the deep philosophic insight is for strong intelligences. Though the body is devoted to death, dying means rising again to the pure life of the Spring for those who during their earthly existence have been awakened by means of philosophic considerations out of careless, slumber and foolish sleep. This is impressed with endless repetition, by means of legends and myths of later Greek, Judeao-Christian, Persian or Indian origin. Every transitory thing is here turned into an emblem. On the ruins of positive religion and unsophisticated opinion a spiritualistic philosophy is built embracing all the knowledge and endeavor of human kind, so far as these came within the Brethren's view."

Their ethical system too was eclectic. Like Aristotle they set up the picture of an Ideal Man, but instead of being the expression of the result of a long philosophical discussion on ethical principles, he was like Aaron Matthew's ideal missionary, a composite figure whose features were borrowed from the characteristics of various people. "The ideal, and morally perfect man," they said, "should be of East-Persian derivation, Arabic in faith, of high (i.e. Babylonian) education; a Hebrew in astutest, and a disciple of Christ in conduct, as pious as a Syrian monk a Greek in the individual sciences, an Indian in the interpretation of all mysteries, but lastly, and especially, a Sufi in his whole spiritualistic life."33 Necessarily such a system held no promise of life, and though the teachings of their Encyclopaedia are still canvassed, their religious movement died with themselves.

Turning now to a better-known and more justly famous movement, Sufiism, we find the same eclecticism. Its origin, also, was in an intellectual reaction from the barrenness of Islamic orthodoxy, and a spiritual thirst which was not there satisfied. "From the earliest times," says Macdonald, "there has been an element in the Moslem Church which was repelled equally by traditional teaching and by intellectual reasoning. It felt that the essence of religion lay elsewhere; that the seal and organ of religion was in the heart." 34 Or as Hughes in his Dictionary of Islam 35

"Sufiism has arisen from the bosom of Mohammedanism as a vague protest of the human soul, in its intense longing after a purer creed. On certain tenets of the Koran the Sufis have erected their own system, professing indeed to reverence its authority as a divine revelation, but in reality substituting for it the oral voice of the Teacher, or the secret the Mystic. Dissatisfied with the barren letter of the Koran, Sufiism appeals to human consciousness, and from our nature's felt wants, seeks to set before us nobler hopes than a gross Mohammedan Paradise can fulfil."

The critical history of Sufiism has yet to be written. When it is it will settle for us the vexed question of its origin,36 but whether it arose from a spontaneous up-springing of esoteric life in Islam, or was a Persian reaction against Arabism, or came from the Vedanta Philosophy of India, or as the present writer is inclined to think, was of Neo-platonic origin37 there can be no doubt whatever that it has had to draw largely from non-Islamic sources, finding its real life in them, and only giving the whole system a coloring drawn from Islam. The Pantheism of the Sufi poets is not the rigid Monotheism of Islam, it is Vedantic; the Sufi rapture of the Union of the Lover with the Beloved is not the orthodox relation of Allah with His creature, it is the ecstatic rapture of Plotinus and his school; and there are elements of the Sufi teaching that seem traceable to survivals of the old Zoroastrian creed. In such an eclectic system, it was not wonderful that so many adherents found it difficult not to treat Sufiism as a system in contrast with Islam, and that there should have been, as Gardner points out,"38 a tendency on the part of Moslem Sufis to break away from formal Islam as soon as they had reached a certain stage of their Sufi like." The source of life, that is, was non Islamic39, and when the cloak of Islam was not longer useful, it was dropped.

This same non-Islamic character of Moslem mysticism is seen in the religious orders of Islam, with their course of mystical development, submission to the Master, ecstatic practices, such as the Zikr, and pantheistic philosophy.

Another outstanding case of Eclecticism in Islam is in the religion of the Bab, and its more modern form, Bahaiism. Its origin also was a spiritual hunger, which could find no satisfaction in Islam as taught by the orthodox. "It betrays," says Canon Sell40 "a longing for a real, loving, personal guide, the revealer of God to man which can best be met by the acceptance of the Eternal Word." In its rise it was closely connected with the mystical Imamate doctrine of the Shias41, and with the system of the Sufis. Thus from its very origin it was infected with the eclectic spirit of Sufi mysticism and in its growth this has been intensified rather than diminished. It is curious that from some source or other it has drawn in a form of the quaint number mysticism of the Qabbalah, particularly in connection with the number 19, the number of chapters in Bayan, and in the earlier form made much of the doctrine of metempsychosis. The system has drawn freely on the stores that have been gathered by students of Comparative Religion, and in its later form it has become so far eclectic as to claim to be to a Christian, Christianity; to a Buddhist, the real teaching of Buddha; to a Sufi, the final revelation of the mystic way and the ideal man; to a Moslem, the appearance of the Mahdi. So far has this gone that Dr. Sell says: "It is not strictly correct to call them a Moslem sect, for they practically discard the Koran, and supersede Mohammed," thus following the tendency of all truly eclectic systems, and in spite of some enthusiasm roused for the movement in America and England,42 as a spiritual force to lay it has practically exhausted itself

The last of these eclectic movements in Islam that we have space to mention, is the modern Indian sect of the Ahmadiyyas, founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Khan in 1888, and now mainly championed by Khwajah Kamal­ud-Din, the leader of the Ahmadiyya Mission to England. The whole story of the movement had been written by the late H.A. Walter,43 we are only concerned here to point out how truly eclectic it is. It is obvious to the outset that the origin of the Ahmadiyya movement as in the need felt by intelligent Moslems, who had their minds opened to Western knowledge and felt the force of Western criticism of Islam,44 for some interpretation of Islam which should be more in accordance with modern knowledge, and provide a religious satisfaction which was not to be found in the Islam of the orthodox school. Ahmad himself had much contact with Christian missionaries during the formative years of his life, and Khwaja' Kamal-ud-Din, we are told; was educated in a mission College. Both, moreover, read widely in Comparative Religion, as witness the pages of The Review of Religions45.

A reform of Islam being essential, and the Rationalist School of Aligarh46 not finding favour, Mirza Ghulab Ahmad revived the Mahdi idea, and claimed that he was in himself the promised Mahdi, the descendant of the Prophet and the last of the Imams, who should make Islam prevail throughout the whole world. But as there was little inspiration in this, he also claimed to be the promised Messiah of the Jews and Christians, and later on in life, in another attempt to gain strength, proclaim himself the latest avatar of Krishna. Since his death further claims have been made for him. Mr. Walters quotes the following from a letter head of Ahmadi correspondence paper-47

"Praised be Allah, the Almighty, the Gracious, the Merciful, worshipable God, Sustainer of all; who through his kindness raised Prophet in these days like unto he prophets of old days, viz. Ahmad, the promised Messiah, the Mohammedan Mahdi, the Krishna, the latter Reformer of the Parsees, the Hope of all the nations of the day - Champion of Islam, Reformer of Christianity, Avatar of Hinduism, Buddha of East,- blessed are they who; believe in him, and take shelter under his peaceful banner."

But not only is there a synthesis of religions on the person of Ahmad, there is one also in the beliefs held by his followers and taught by himself. For example, his conception of the Mahdi is composite. The orthodox expectation of the Mahdi is that he is to be a man of blood who will lead the last Jihad against the Unbelievers48.

But Ahmad was a man of peace, and while retaining the conception of the Mahdi as the leader of a great Islamic Crusade, he tried to combine it with the preaching of peace which was characteristic of the preaching of Jesus. It is true that he claimed to be uncompromisingly orthodox, but as one reads the pages of his journal and pamphlets,49 it is abundantly evident that his interpretations, and particularly his eschatology, is shot through and through with Sufi and Christian influences50.

The same is true of the writings of his followers. The most famous of the English converts of the Ahmadiyya movement is Lord Headley. In 1915 he produced a little book entitled "A Western Awakening to Islam"51, which is such a weird mixture of Christianity and Islam that one wonders what would be the answer of an orthodox Doctor of the Faith, if it were presented to him as an exposition of Islam.

This unorthodox eclecticism is very evident too in their new English version of the Koran with Commentary, and of the writings and speeches of the present main pillar, Khwajah Kamal-ud-Din. During is recent visit to Madras he is reported to have said in the course of a lecture,-

"The Hindus and the Mohammedans could easily come together in a bond of union if they recognized each other's prophets. There was no harm for Mohammedans in considering the Hindu prophets as their prophets, and vice versa ... He would ask them whether it would not be possible to create a sort of league, the very first declaration of which would be that the signatory would accept Moses, Jesus, Ramachandra, Krishna, Buddha and Mohammed as the true prophets and messengers of God, would accept all the great books of religion as books of God, that the Koran was the final revelation of the Divine will, and that he would refrain from speaking ill of other religions."53

Yet a further interesting proof of the need Islam has found all through its history of drawing in outside sources for the religious inspiration and life which it failed to find in itself, is found in the study of some of the minor offshoots of Islam. For example, the creed of those interesting and little-known people, the Yezidis, the devil worshipers of Islam is a fully fledged syncretism Dr. Isya Joseph writes of them,-

"In the early history of the sect ... many Christians, Persians and Moslems united with it; and that large survivals or absorptions of pagan beliefs or customs are to be found in modern Yezidism. In other word the actual religion of the Yezidi is syncretism, in which it is easy to recognize Yezidi, Christian, Moslem (especially Sufistic) and pagan elements."54

The same is true of the various branches of the Ismailians. For instance the doctrine of the Shungnani Ismailians, who dwell in the Russian and Bokharian province of Turkestan, is described by Semonoff in an article part IV of the first volume of "Mir Islama," as a curious mixture of Islam, Christianity and ideas of meten psychosis probably derived from Buddhist sources. Among them it is noticeable, that while the form of Religion is Mohammedan, the driving force is the "meten psychosis" belief. Not only, so, but the whole larger moment of the Ismailians was profoundly influenced Greek philosophy,55 which lay at the root of its missionary zeal, and very much like the modern Ahmadiyya movement they were prepared to adopt any religious ideas and take on the coloring of any religious environment in order to accomplish their ends. As Arnold confesses,-

"They captivated the ignorant multitude by the performance of marvels that were taken for miracles, and by mysterious utterances that excited their curiosity. To the devout they appeared as models of virtue and religious zeal; to the mystics they revealed the hidden meaning of popular teachings, and initiated them into various grades of occultism according to their capacity. Taking advantage of the eager looking forward to a deliverance that was common to so many faiths of the time, they declared to the Mussulmans the approaching advent of the Imam Mahdi, to the Jews that of the Messiah, and to the Christians that of the Comforter, but taught that the aspirations of each could alone be realized in the coming of 'Ali as the great deliverer56.

Further testimony to the same effect could be supplied in abundance if necessary, but the evidence gathered above is sufficient to demonstrate that even though in its origin and early growth Islam had an on original life-force of its own, that life-force was not sufficient to carry it very far, without the incorporation of new sources of life from outside. Wherever Islam has gone as a conquering force, it has soon exhausted its original store of religious energy and life-force, as the spiritual and intellectual conditions of Moslem lands in all periods of history bear witness. All its revivals of life and movements of missionary zeal have been due to the drawing in of fresh sources of life and this naturally suggests the question of the ultimate end of the process. One fact is certain, and that is that it must ultimately result in the passing away of Islam as Islam. As a spiritual life Islam is no longer able to vivify the body of the Mohammedan world, and the forces which do vivify it must inevitably change its character into their likeness. And therein lies the great hope of Christian missions among Moslems. In recent eclectic movements in Islam, Christian thinking has had a very strong influence, and if Christian missions in Moslem lands can increasingly leaven the thinking of the people, particularly the more educated people, with Christian ideals and the Christian spirit, then inevitably the life-force of Christianity working among them must transform them into its image. It does not follow from this that the Moslem world will bodily enter the fold of organized Christianity as we know it in our Western Churches; the more natural result would be that inside the Moslem world there should grow up a Christian Church, expressing its spiritual life in forms which may differ widely from those known in our organized Church life,59 but be none the less genuine interpretation of the "life more abundant" which comes to men in and through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Cairo, Egypt.



1 A Critical history of Greek Philosophy 1920, p. 369.

2 Erwin Rohde. Psyche, ii, 397.

3 Conflict of Religions in the Roman Empire,p. 24.

4 Kalthoff holds that these Oriental religious ideas were the vehicle of the socialistic communistic tendencies of the time. See his book Die Entstehung des Christentums, chap. ii.

5 Dean, Inge in his Philosophy of Plotinus protests against this, but the facts seem against him. Even though the Philosophy of Plotinus may be a development of Platonics it gains its life from Oriental mysticism.

6 See Waddell's Lamaism, or the Buddhism of Tibet, 1895. The Christian borrowing were from Nestorian Missions.

7 Op cit. p 30. See also Grünwedel's Der Lamaismus in Kultur der Gegenwart I, iii, 1906, and Pozdnejev's Skizzen aus dem lamaistichen Klosterleben in der Mongolei, 1887.

8 For interesting evidence of the composite nature of Burmese Buddhism, see J.J. Recht und Sitte, p. 40ff in the Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde.

9 See H. Ritter, Histoire de la Philosophie Chrétienne, vol. i, p. 101. (Traduction of Trullard). It is interesting that the traditional "father of all Gnostics", is Simon Movide, Dr. Salmon's article on him in Dictionary of Christian Biography, vol. iv., p. 68.

10 "Docetism, with its phantom Christ, and Gnosticism with its antithesis of the God and the good God, were not likely to satisfy mankind. Simple people felt that things struck at their life, and they rejected them." Glover's Conflict of Religions, p. 15.

11 History of Philosophy, 1914, p. 210.

12 In this connection it is most interesting to read in René Guénon's recent book, Théosphisme. Histoire d'une pseudo-Religion, 1921, p. 274.

13 Easily the best account in English of the Theosophical Society that by Dr. J.N. Farquhar in his Hartford-Lamson Lectures on Modern Religious Movements in India, 1918, pp. 208-291, where inter alia, he shows that the teaching of Madame Blavatsky's writings, said to have been revealed to her by Mahatmas in Tibet, is mostly plagiarized from English and French writers.

14 Op. cit. p. 29.

15 Farquahr, p. 46. See also W. Geden's Studies in the Religions of the East, 1913, p. 417. The Slokasangraha was published in Calcutta in 1904, by K.G. Nath.

16 Two vols. Calcutta 1911-1912.

17 E.g. Thakur Kahan Chandra Varma, author of A New Discovery; Christ a Myth, 1918.

18 In a full account of this interesting Reformer, see Max Muller's Ramakrishna, His Life and Sayings, 1910.

19 Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 198.

20 Rabbi Abraham Geiger's work Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen, first appeared as a Prize Essay at Bonn in 1833. It was translated by an English lady and published under the title Judaism and Islam, by the S.P.C.K., Madras in 1898.

21 S.P.C.K. 1911. An English edition, revised and enlarged, from a Persian work of the author entitled, Yanabi' ul Islam (1900), but unfortunately not reproducing the text quoted in the original tongues, which were given in the Persian work.

22 Arabia the Cradle of Islam, 1912, p. 170. An Analytical Table of the borrowed elements of Islam is given on p. 178 of the same work.

23 E.g. His astrology is Sabaen, and the Jinn and Houris and bridge Sirat are Zoroastrian, but quite a large amount of the eschatology is Jewish. See also two interesting articles which appeared in Der Islam, one by Dr. Wesnick's "Animismus und Dämonenglaube im Untergrunde des jüdischen und islamischen rituellen Gebete" in iv, pp. 219-235; and the other by Georg Jacob, "Fortleben von antiken Mysterien und Alt-Christlichem im Islam," in ii, pp. 232-234. The full history of Islamic Eschatology has yet to be written.

24 "Christ was born amid the clash of East and West, historical Christianity is the product of many movements with intense differences, local and racial. From the Jew, the Greek, and the Roman the new faith received elements, differing according to the genius of the different races, yet all of the value in building up the City of God... For the Jews, the Greek, and the Roman on entering the Church did not lose the racial idiosyncracies or abandon their distinctive tempers and modes of thought. The Jew came to the New Testament through the Old; the Greek, even if he entered the Chruch through the synagogue, yet brought with him his philosophy; while the Roman construed all in terms of his polity." - H. B. Workman, Christian Thought to the Reformation, 1911, p. 2.

25 English translation, 1912, of Dr. Clemen's thesis Religionsgeschichtliche Erklärung des Neuen Testaments, 1908. Clemen is often extreme, but not so extreme as Bolland, who in his De Theosophie in Christendom en Judendom, 1910, and earlier works seeks to derive Christianity from the thought of the Alexandrian Schools, or the wild theories of Lublinski in his Die Entstehung des Christentums des Christentums aus der antiken Kultur, 1910; which remind one of the Christ Myth delusions of Drews, Smith and J.M. Robertson.

26 The Environment of Early Christianity, 1914, pp. 225-6.

27 Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Meccah, Popular edition, 1919, vol. II, p. 109.

28 For instance on Chinese Mohammedanism Dr. Sell's judgement is "Islam has had its day of opportunity in China and has failed." (Moslems in China, 1913, p. 10) and there is abundant evidence in the works of Marshall Broomhall, Dabry de Theirsant, and D'Ollone as to how little, religiously, Islam means to them. As to Islam in India, the witness of Moslems themselves who have been awakened by Western culture is sufficient. Many are the pamphlets in which they bewail the lack of religion among their fellow Moslems and the low state to which they are reduced. See for example the testimony of Ahmed Batcha, B.A. (Madras) in No. 1 of Ishait-i-Islam Tract Series.

29 There are curious points of similarity between these Brethren and the Pythagoreans. Both were religious associations with a strong leaning towards occultism. Both indulged in political intrigues, and came to trouble thereby. Both formed a kind of monastic fraternity with grades of progression. Both based their philosophy upon Natural Science, and Brethren on the teaching of the Natural Philosophers and the Pythagoreans on Medicine and Mathematics. Both laid claim to secret wisdom, and both made a compendium of learning and Encyclopedia.

30 History of Philosophy in Islam, 1903, pp. 93-4. An English translation of T.J. de Boer's Geschichte der Philosophie im Islam, 1901. See also his article "Moslem Philosophy" in Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics.

31 Op. cit. pp. 84, 85.

32 In this respect there is a curious approximation of the views of the Brethren of Comte in the formulation of his Positivist Religion. They shared also somewhat critical attitude to the social life and organized religions of the time. Their name, however, does not necessarily imply any definitely organized Brotherhood such as was among the Pythagoreans, Goldziher has shown in his Muhammedanische Studien n.i. that the name Ikhwan as-Safa, or Brethren of Purity, according to Arabians means nothing more than that they were sincere or pure. See further his notes die Benennung der 'Ikhwan as-Safa,' in Der Islam Vol. I, p. 22ff.

33 de Boer, Op. cit., p. 95.

34 D.B. Macdonald's Religious Attitude and Life in Islam, 1909, p. 159. See also the fourth Essay in Goldziher's Vorlesungen über den Islam, 1910.

35 Edition of 1896, p. 620, col. 2, quoting from E.B. Cowell's Oxford Essays for 1855

36 See the discussion of the various theories of its origin as given in the first volume of Browne's Literary History of Persia, 1902, Vol. I p. 416ff.

37 On this see particularly Dr. Nicholson's Article in J.R.A.S. for 1906, and later in his Literary History of the Arabs, 1907. The older theory was in favor of an Indian origin; so Hughes, op. cit., p. 689, says - "Sufiism is but a Moslem adaptation of the Vedanta school of Hindu Philosophers." On the whole question of Sufiism, Goldziher's article Materialien zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Sufismus, in the thirteenth volume of Vienna Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, 1899, is most important; likewise Nicholson's Mystics of Islam, 1914.

38 W.R.W. Gardner's Al-Ghazali, 1919, p. 66. It is worthy of note that Ghazali's system was strongly eclectic.

39 The Sufis themselves claim that their system was the world before the Mission of Mohammed, and an examination of its characteristics shows it to be in harmony with a mythical tradition which is common to all the world. See Underhill's Mysticism in Islam, pp. 114-115.

40 Faith in Islam, 4th edition, 1920, p. 209.

41 This doctrine of the Imamate itself, was almost certainly a derived from a Greek idea. The whole question of "der hellenistische gottmensch und der imam-begriff" is dealt with by Tor Andrae in Die person Muhammeds in lehre und glauben seiner gemeinde, Stockholm, 1918.

42 Which in his last years even caught the Hebrew scholar T.K. Cheyne.

43 The Ahmadiyya Movement, 1918. See also his article "Qadiani," in Hastings E.R.E., Vol. x the last study in Goldziher's Vorlesungen über den Islam, 1910, and Dr. Griswold's Mirza Ghulab Ahmad, 1902.

44 Dr. Farquhar (Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 137) says it arose "largely as a reaction from the striking success of a Christian Mission in the Central Punjab, and from the fierce onslaught of Dyananda and his Samaj.

45 Orthodox Hinduism, the Arya Samaj, the Brahma Samaj, and Theosophy, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism, Bahaism, Christian Science, and Christianity all received attention as well as Islam in all its ramifications, both ancient and modern, such as Shi'ites, Ahl-i-Hadis, Kharijites, Sufis, and such representative exponents.

46 That of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Syed Amir Ali.

47 The Ahmadiya Movement, pp. 51-52.

48 This character has been fully sustained by most modern pretenders to Mahdiship. See Darmsteter's Le Mahdi depuis l'origine de l'Islam jusqu'a nos jours, 1885.

49 The Review of Religions, and particularly his pamphlet, The Teachings of Islam, 1910.

50 Mr. Walter gives numerous illustrative quotations in chapter III of his work above mentioned.

51 London, J.S. Phillips. On reading it through one does not know whether to wonder most at the author's ignorance of Islam, or his ignorance of Christianity.

52 In the fourth edition of his Faith in Islam (1920) Canon Sell refers to this Commentary as "remarkable chiefly by its lack of sound scholarship, its divergence from accepted Moslem beliefs, its ignorant dogmatism, and bitter hatred of Christianity.", p. 226.

53 See report in Moslem World, XI, pp. 87-88.

54 Devil Worship, 1919. See also J. Menant, Les Yezidis.

55 De Lacy writes in his recent work Arabic Thought and its Place in History, p. 169 - "From first to last, the whole of the Isma'ilian movement was connected with intellectual revival due to the reproduction of Greek philosophy in Arabic form, but of course, when the Isma'ilian converts were drawn from the illiterate classes, as was the case, with the Qarmatians, and when the attention of the members was engrossed with political ambitions, as was the case with the Fatimids whilst they were building up power in Africa before the invasion of Egypt. But even under the most unfavorable conditions it seems that the da'is or missionaries regarded the spread of science and philosophy as a leading part of their duties, quite as much so as the preaching of the Alid Claims of the Fatamid Khalif."

56 The Preaching of Islam, 2nd edition, 1913, pp. 211, 212. Further down on the same page he says - "Similarly the Isma'ilian missionaries who made their way into India endeavored to make their doctrines acceptable to the Hindus, by representing 'Ali as the promised tenth Avatar of Vishnu, who was to come from the West, i.e. (they asserted) from Alamut. They also wrote a Mahdi Purana and composed hymns in imitation of those of the Vamaearins of left-hand Saktas, whose mysticism already predisposed their minds to the acceptance of the esoteric doctrines of the Isma'ilians." His reference is to Khaia Vrittant by Sachedina Nanjieni, 1892.

57 This is interestingly brought out by Dr. T.W. Arnold in his Preaching of Islam in an incidental manner, though his book is rather in the nature of an apology for Islam.

58 Particularly in Bahaism and the Ahmadiyya Movement.

59 As is apparently happening in India in the case of Sadhu Sundar Singh and the Secret Sannyasi Movement.

The Muslim World, Volume 12 (1922), pp. 230-247.

Material by Arthur Jeffery

Click to View