by Marc J. Rauch
Look, it has to be said. There’s no getting around it, and in fact,
being aware of it only helps to put everything in proper perspective: Islam is a
I don't mean this in a pejorative sense; I mean it in the primary dictionary
sense. Islam tracks its lineage from the birth of a child of unmarried
Now in today’s socio-enlightened climate, being born out-of-wedlock no longer
has any real derogatory meaning, and I definitely approve of that societal
change. However, I do think it’s an intriguingly sardonic coincidence
that a major religion could find its origins in the primary dictionary
definition of a word, and then conduct itself according to the secondary
dictionary definition of the same word.
I'm not raising the issue to be offensive, but in response to the tremendous
amount of mainstream attention currently being given to the story of biblical
Abraham, and how the three main monotheistic religions all supposedly owe their
foundation to him and his progeny. In particular, I'm referring to the
book by Bruce S. Feiler (Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths)
and the derivative Time magazine article by David Van Biema (September 30,
Although the two works are neither the first, nor the most authoritative on the
subject, they are the latest and come at a most propitious time (as it relates
to the marketing of such items). I don't have a problem with the veracity
of the information, after all who really knows what is or isn't true about
Abraham, and certainly Feiler’s and Van Biema’s details are consistent with
other respected dissertations. The trouble is that both pieces espouse a
Pollyanna perspective of today’s Islam-versus-the-world situation. They
attempt to make the case that by understanding Abraham, and how Abraham fostered
the beginnings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (or how the three religions
rely upon him to explain themselves), that we'll all live together peacefully.
Instead, I find that Feiler’s and Van Biema’s efforts reinforce my own
opinion that as long as we (the non-Islamic world) allow ourselves to think that
we are dealing with a group of like-minded compassionate people who are willing
to compromise over issues, we’re just heading for lots more trouble from them.
I think that Feiler and Van Biema remind us that we are facing an intractable
foe. A foe who ultimately seeks the destruction of anyone that does not
surrender to their position, and who is only willing to find a middle ground
when there is extreme physical danger in not doing so.
At the root of my contention is the manner in which Islam has co opted my
religion, Judaism, and how the followers of Islam then justify their villainous
actions based upon their bizarre revision of Jewish history and tenets.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting for one second that people don't have the
right to believe what they want to believe. They absolutely, positively
do. If someone wants to believe that the Moon is made of green cheese, bon
appetite. If they want to believe that their God is a tree in the
backyard, happy climbing. And if they want to believe that rocks can walk
and talk, I couldn't care less. But they’re not allowed to pick up that
rock and hit me over the head with it simply because I don't share their belief.
This is exactly what Muslims have done, and are doing, with Islam. It’s
like they've taken the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and
changed it to Snow White living with the Three Little Pigs who let down
Repunzel’s hair so that Pinocchio can weave it into a poisonous red apple.
Excuse me, but that ain't Snow White’s story.
I'm not arguing this point based on truths and facts. As I stated
earlier, no one knows the truth or the facts: there is only belief.
Stories can be changed, they can be adapted, they can be updated, and maybe they
can even be made more appealing. Three wise men of Broadway (Arthur
Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim) took Shakespeare’s Romeo
and Juliet and turned it into West Side Story. Hey, there’s
no problem; they did a great job in the transformation. But Laurents,
Bernstein and Sondheim didn't then go around killing those people that tried to
read or stage the original version of Romeo and Juliet. They didn't
go on a raping spree in order to force women and children into believing that
Juliet was really a Puerto Rican named Maria.
When the merchant trader Muhammad ibn Abdallah took a nap in a cave in the year
610 and woke up thinking that he had a divine revelation, neither he nor any of
his Arab brethren knew anything about Abraham or Abraham’s sons. The
story of Ishmael was not a part of Arab folklore or Arab history or Arab
mythology. Muhammad only heard the story of Abraham and Isaac and Ishmael
during the years he was trying to learn about Judaism in order to convince the
Jews and then the Christians that he was God’s latest and greatest messenger.
He needed a route to legitimacy, a path of succession for himself and the Arab
people, so he latched on to the Ishmael story. Somehow or another, he was
able to draw family-tree diagrams in the sand that convinced other Arabs that he
was the direct descendant of someone that may or may not have lived 2,600 years
before him (that’s about 10,000 generations by contemporary measurements).
If there was ever a miracle, it was in getting other Arabs to believe him.
However, even if someone wanted to seriously postulate that the conversion of
thousands of Arabs from polytheistic idolatry to monotheism might have been a real
miracle, it still doesn't give Muslims the right to go around hitting
non-Muslims over the head with the Koran. It's especially inexcusable if
the assaults are simply because they don't like our songs and choreography
of the same stage play.
Incidentally, the Abraham-Ishmael story wasn't even a regular part of Jewish
folklore and history until the 1st century, when the Jewish historian Josephus
wrote a couple of books for Vespasian, the Roman general and emperor.
Josephus, born Joseph ben Mattathias, was a Hebrew general who had been captured
and brought before Vespasian to be executed or sold into slavery. He
begged for mercy and in exchange for his life he offered to write about the
Roman-Judean battles and to make Vespasian look like a hero. Josephus was
the Benedict Arnold of ancient Israel. In writing his books, Josephus
“fleshed out” many of the unfinished and unexplained tales of Jewish
history. His fabricated elements of the Abraham-Ishmael story was written
about two thousand years after it purportedly occurred.
In any event, as Feiler and Van Biema set forth in their works, six hundred
years later Muhammad and his followers began to transform what was originally
only a disconnected footnote in Jewish mythology into one of mankind’s most
dogmatic and deadly doctrines. Unfortunately, the revisions and
adaptations haven't stopped. The Snow White story continues to get new
chapters and characters: Johnny Appleseed took seeds from Pinocchio’s poison
apple and planted them throughout America so that all Americans would grow up to
be evil. And the only way to defeat the evil Yankee-dogs is to knock down
the World Trade Center buildings and have diamondback rattlesnakes and heavenly
angels (from Arizona and Anaheim, respectively) beat them in a baseball game.
For those of you who have been wondering how the New York Yankees could have
lost the last two years, now you know. As a rabid Yankee fan, I can assure
you that I'm sticking with this explanation.
Meanwhile, Muslim clerics keep rewriting Jewish and Christian theological
history. According to them, rather than Abraham being commanded by God to
sacrifice his son Isaac, in the supreme act of fealty (which pretty much
provides the entire underpinning of Judeo-Christian belief), Abraham was really
going to sacrifice his bastard son, Ishmael (thereby establishing the foundation
for the Islamic religion). Keep in mind that this revision comes nearly
four thousand years after the event presumably took place, not to mention the
thousands of years of traditional Abraham-Isaac storytelling.
As I said before, and it’s worth repeating again, Muslims can believe what
they want. There's no hard and fast physical evidence to prove any of
this, regardless of the perspective. They just shouldn't be such bastards
about it. Stop trying to kill others with a distortion of the other
peoples’ own story. Wise and creative men like Laurents, Bernstein and
Sondheim are already on our team, we don't need Islamic help to dream up new
interpretations of our own classics.
The bottom-line is how extensive and insidious Arab and Islamic revisions are.
In their rush to find legitimacy for their positions they’re willing to
trample anyone or anything. When Muslims are not rewriting our bible,
they’re changing modern history to make it look like they’re the suffering
victims of infidel aggression, instead of being the instigators. They
always have some new mumbo-jumbo to justify why it’s okay for them to blow up
school buses carrying children, office buildings filled with workers, or night
clubs crowded with vacationers.
Moreover, because the world has not yet put its collective foot down to help
stop this nonsense, the Muslims are now busy organizing symposiums to insist
that the Holocaust never happened and that Jews are not really Jews at all.
Funnily enough, the epitome of Islam’s audacious revisionism will probably
come when Muslims finally declare that they are actually the Jews of antiquity.
When they do, after you stop laughing, remember that you read it here first.
To paraphrase what my parents used to say; "If you can't play nicely with
our Abraham, then leave our story alone."
About the author:
Marc J. Rauch was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1952, and lived in the
metropolitan area until “emigrating” to the West Coast in the early 80s.
He is a multi-award winning TV/film writer, producer, and director, and has been
a broadcasting and marketing executive since the 1975. Marc lectures on
various subjects concerning broadcasting, new media, and the Middle East at
conferences and seminars throughout the U.S. and Europe. In 1994, he
authored a book on advertising and has had several business and industry
articles published in a variety of related magazines. His political
commentaries are regularly published in several print and online publications.
Jews, God and History, Max I. Dimont, 1962
A History of God, Karen Armstrong, 1993
Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths, Bruce S. Feiler, 2002
The Legacy of Abraham, TIME magazine, David Van Biema, Sept. 30, 2002