🔼The name Islam: Summary
- Unifying, Peace-making
- From the verb שלם (shalem), to be or make whole or complete.
🔼The name Islam in the Bible
The name Islam doesn't occur as such in the Bible for the simple reason that the movement of Islam didn't exist until the seventh century after Christ.
The name Islam comes from Arabic, but Arabic is closely related to Hebrew and the Hebrew word ישלם occurs all over the Bible — here at Abarim Publications we count forty instances. The related name Muslim (משלם) occurs in the Bible as the enormously popular name Meshullam.
We'll have a close look at the actual meaning of the word ישלם below, but for now we'll summarize it as a phrase that signifies equity in an economic, ethical and moral sense, as well a practical unification of reconcilable systems of belief.
🔼Why Islam came to be
Muhammad started his work on the Quran (or began to receive its words, if you will) partly out of frustration with the corruption of the Christian and Judaic religions of his day, and his main call was for a return to the Scriptures and worship of God alone (Q,6.102, Q.6.151, Q21.25). By that time, the church had turned the Biblical doctrine of the One Living God (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 44:6-7) into an old-fashioned Greco-Roman pagan trinity — or even a pentarchy, if we count satan and Mary, who later became known as the Queen of Heaven, a common title of several mother-goddesses such as Asherah (see Jeremiah 7:18) — plus the customary pantheon of demigods now known as saints, and this jived neither with Biblical Scriptures nor with the Prophet.
The movement he started was meant as an internal Reformation, but irreconcilable with human lethargy and the desire of religious rulers to maintain the status quo that employed them, Islam became its own thing very much like Jesus' Evangel had centuries before, Luther's Protestantism would nearly a millennium later and Science would eventually in modern times.
Christianity, Islam, Protestantism and Science have in common that since their eponymous revolutions, people have flocked to their tenets in droves because of the disastrously low quality of the mainstream movements they branched off of. They are not four different revolutions but four times the same call for humanity to return to adherence to Truth and Truth alone. People who pursue political (or "religious") polarization do so solely out of want of personal gain; those are the people who preach irreconcilable differences. People who pursue Truth do so out of reverence for Truth; those are the people who preach inevitable consilience.
The world is full of people who are too busy being Christian to be Christ-like, or too busy being Muslim to practice Islam. But as soon as people claim God for themselves and deny others their equal access, people are worshipping a tribal deity; an idol after their own image. People like that are like loudmouthed football hooligans, who root for their team but don't play themselves, who sit in their elevated seats breathing their idle advices or charging the supporters of the other team. The actual members of the teams that play on the field below don't hate the other team, but realize that having others is what makes the game.
🔼Allah or Eloah
Christianity, Judaism and Islam have all evolved far since the seventh century, but in modern times their differences are mainly maintained by people who are clueless about any of them.
Some folks surmise that since Muslims worship Allah and the Judeo-Christian tradition a nameless "God" at least one of the two worships the much-invoked anti-god called satan. This is patent nonsense. The God of the Jews and Christians has several names (YHWH appears to be his most personal name) but the Hebrew word for God is El, Elohim or Eloah, and that is the exact same word as Allah (just spoken with a different dialect, comparable to the English word "God" versus the German "Gott"). It's ultimately unclear where these words come from, but even though in deep antiquity both the names El and Allah appear to have been attached to local deities or idols, they began to be applied to and quickly denoted only the Creator And Maintainer Of The Universe.
And even if Allah were a different word, all contemplators of the divine may operate free from a restriction to call The Living One And Only One by whatever name they want (Q.17.110). Muhammad chose Allah, probably because that's what the word for God sounded like to him, and explained with lavish and unequivocal terms that with Allah he meant the Merciful God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, David and even Jesus. With the name Allah, Muhammad (or Gabriel, if you please) meant the God of the Bible.
Which brings us to the other main difference: The Quran insists over and over again that God has no son. This of course is an unsurmountable obstacle to Christians, but after some calming down and careful defining and grouping of the terms, even Christians ought to concede that the Quran is not incorrect in stating this. Here we go:
🔼Jesus is not the son of God, and pi is not 3.1415
Everybody knows that pi is a touch greater than 3.1415. But stating this only results in truth when we add the proviso that we're working on a Euclidian geometry (meaning: a perfectly flat surface). On a spherical surface, pi must be smaller than 3.1415, and on a hyperbolic surface pi isn't even a constant. So is pi 3.1415? There is no answer to that question because the answer depends on the geometry we're on. Is Jesus the son of God? There is no answer to that question either because the answer depends on the theometry we're on.
Jesus is not the son of God in the way that, say, Prometheus is the son of Zeus, namely a son who is the same as his father save for his rank, who operates separate from his father and can even revolt against his father and purloin things from him. If divine sonhood is defined as being similar to biological sonhood, resulting in a generational progeny that once didn't exists and may one day replace the parental generation, Jesus is not the son of God.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are mono-theisms; they discuss per definition one God, who is per definition not divided, and who created and maintains everything and must therefore be the same entity (John 1:1, Colossians 1:15-17). These three monotheisms are, or should be, continuously at odds with the esoteric and pagan religions who insist on a "marriage" between the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine that joined produce a sacred infant. As a world-view, this is patent nonsense and "real" only in infantile human heads.
The universe simply doesn't work that way, as science is presently finally confirming because even science is monotheistic. The creator deity of science is a set of rules that now runs and once brought forth the universe and had to exist before the universe and must still exist apart from it, summarized by the acronym GUT (which should really be GUTH, to the delight of a certain someone), which stands for Grand Unified Theory. Counter to what many believe, science and the monotheisms don't disagree on the existence of God; they just disagree on whether he has personhood or not.
Guth = Allah = Elohim = YHWH.
All else is detail.
🔼Jesus is the son of God, and pi is 3.1415
Just like Guth must operate everywhere in the universe and always consistently, Allah must exist everywhere in the universe and never change. The Grand Unified Theory can not be split up in independent parts because all creatures need the whole of creation to operate. Yet, when looking at one creature, not all of Guth is required to describe it. That is, of course, with the magnificent exception of a cognizant creature that knows Guth, because describing this creature would require the knowledge that defines it. This includes Guth, but since Guth contains all, only Guth suffices. In other words: describing a man who knows God requires describing God.
Nobody will deny that Jesus knew God, which makes him the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the fully-grown version of the neophyte human which was created in God's image (Genesis 1:26).
Since Allah is the Merciful, mercy must be a divine quality, and whoever shows mercy, shares in that same divine quality. Only Allah can create life, and anything or anyone else can't even create a living fly (Q.22.73), yet Jesus made a living bird and gave dead people their lives back (Q.3.49, Q.5.110; with Allah's permission, sure, but nothing happens without Allah's permission — Matthew 10:29, Q.57.22). Since Allah creates life, creating life must be a divine quality, and whoever creates life, shares in that same divine quality.
The Quran does not at all deny that Allah shared his divine qualities with Jesus, and neither does the Quran deny the virgin birth ("and her who remained chaste; We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and made her and her son a sign for all peoples" Q.21.91). Allah also said that he would purify the sons of Levi (Malachi 3:3), and Mary (Jesus' only source of human genes) was a niece of Elizabeth (Luke 1:36; the word is συγγενης, suggenes; co-bornness), who in turn was a Levite (Luke 1:5), so no trouble there either (Q.3.56).
🔼Son of God
The Quran is not the only common era Scripture that has a problem with the phrase "Son of God"; the authors of the New Testament wrestled with it too. This phrase "Son of God", namely, is not a Biblical invention but a Roman one. It was first applied to Augustus, the (adopted) son of the deified Julius Caesar, along with other familiar phrases such as Savior of the World, Lord of Lords, and all that. The idea was that after half a century of bloody civil wars, the Roman Republic had finally given up the ghost, only to be "born-again" as the Roman Empire, governed by a totalitarian man-god emperor.
The core-philosophy of this monstrous but still remarkably popular social structure was that if everybody simply did what they were told, humanity would shine like a new dime. The Christian counter-movement, however, maintained that not massive obedience to some guy would lead to Paradise, but rather massive obedience to Guth. Obedience to Guth required freedom from any kind of human overbearance, which in the Jewish tradition would be known by the Hebrew word Messiah and the Greek equivalent Christ, both meaning "anointed one". This means that these freed people were called Christs (and not "Christians"; a Christian is someone who pertains to but does not partake in the Anointment — 2 Corinthians 1:21, Hebrews 1:9, 1 John 2:20). Or as the Quran says it:
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of his light is like a niche, within which is a lamp. The lamp is within glass, the glass is lit as if it were a pearly star lit from a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides onto his light whom he wants, and Allah speaks to mankind in parables; Allah is the Knower Of All Things (also see Psalm 119:105, Matthew 5:14, 13:35, Luke 12:35, John 5:35, 8:12, 2 Peter 1:19).
Augustus and his cronies were deluded lunatics and totalitarian self-serving mass-murdering despicable animals, who plunged the world into 1,500 years of vile darkness and a psychotic nightmare from which we are still trying to awaken. The real emperor of the world is the freed man, free to follow Allah wherever Allah decrees him to go. Only as a freed person is a person able to exists as himself (a musician as a musician, a writer as a writer, etcetera). Government by Allah feels like freedom and is essentially that: pure freedom (Isaiah 9:6). A human being can experience no greater joy and can have no greater reach or degree of freedom than when he can truly live by Guth (Q.7.32, Q.53.42, Q.5.8).
But before Augustus nicked the phrase "Son of God" (much like his later admirer and emulator Adolf Hitler would nick the sacred swastika and sully it for ever) it was used in Hebrew Scriptures and certainly known and approved of by both Gabriel and Muhammad (as one obviously can't believe only parts of the Scriptures and reject the others — Q.2.85): Angelic beings are regularly called sons of God (Genesis 6:2, Job 1:6, 2:1, Psalm 89:7), and of Israel YHWH says: Israel is my first-born. I have said to thee: let my son go, the he may serve me (Exodus 4:22). The most specific "son of God" or "son of YHWH" is, however, the Anointed One (Psalm 2:7), also known as David's descendant (2 Samuel 7:14). But that still isn't all:
The English words "father" and "son" are almost exclusively reserved for the biological male parent and male offspring, and any figurative use of these words derive from this biological progeneration. This is not the case in Hebrew. Just like every dog is an animal but not every animal is a dog, the words "father" and "son" are the animal, while the biological relation is the dog. In other words: in Hebrew, the biological relation is an application of a more fundamental concept governed by the words אב ('ab), also meaning father, and בן (ben), also meaning son.
That fundamental concept basically comes down to a quality or set of qualities (that's the אב, ab) and someone who exhibits that quality or set of quality (that's the בן, ben). Hence the Hebrew scriptures speak of a son of wickedness (Psalm 89:22), son of a pledge (2 Kings 14:14), son of death (1 Samuel 20:31), son of worthlessness (or Belial; 1 Samuel 25:17), son of the prophets (that means: a prophet — 2 Kings 2:3) and in that same sense: son of God, meaning someone who exhibits behavior that defines God.
Since Jesus did the will of the Father (Matthew 6:10, 26:42, John 5:30, 6:39, and we are now operating on a Hebrew theometry, not an English or Arabic one:) he was "Son of God," and so is everybody who does the will of the Father (Matthew 5:9, Luke 20:36, Romans 8:14-19, Galatians 3:26). This thus does not mean that these sons of God exist separate from God, like biological sons would relative to their biological fathers; it means precisely the opposite. In the Hebrew sense, sons of God can not possibly do anything that does not pertain to the divine. God is One.
Jesus was also called monogenes, or one of a kind (John 3:16), but this word too isn't used exclusively for Jesus. It's also applied to the raised widow's son of Nain (Luke 7:12), the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:42), the unclean-spirit seized boy (Luke 9:38), and Isaac, the younger half-brother of Ishmael (Hebrews 11:17).
🔼One God; three kinds of people
Humanity consists of constructors, destructors and followers. Constructors build buildings and read and write books, and enter into dialogues and learn from others. Destructors destroy other peoples' buildings, don't converse with others and burn books. Constructors are sons of Allah, who constructs the universe and weaves every living soul; destructors are sons of satan, who destroys until he finally heads to destruction himself. Destructors think it's "us versus them". Constructors know it's "us for them" (Genesis 12:3, 28:14, 2 Chronicles 6:32, Haggai 2:7, Zechariah 8:23).
All living people belong to the One Living God, and those people who see guide the ones who don't (because blind people are not equal to seeing people; eyes can't reach Guth, but Guth reaches eyes). The people of the Living God serve each other and look for each other and bring each other to the Holy One, who was always One and will always be One. It's Guth's very Oneness that allowed the universe to come into being so long ago, and allows it to continue to exist today. When we testify and say Allahu akbar (as in the Hebrew verb כבר, kabar, meaning great, much or many), only an utterly dimmed ignoramus could think we mean to say "Allah is many". Instead we mean Allah is Great (1 Chronicles 16:25, Psalm 95:3, 147:5, Isaiah 12:6, Jeremiah 10:6, Ezekiel 36:23).
All monotheistic religions are essentially the same and essentially scientific. Their aim is for humans to understand creation and function within it as effectively as possible. That is why (at least until the detrimental breach between science and religion) monotheistic houses of worship were also centers of learning. Monotheism had universities rise adjacent temples, churches and mosques, and the emphasis was always on the pursuit of Truth for the sake of Truth (John 4:22-24, Romans 1:20, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:21), as well as to measure and count, measure and count (Genesis 15:5, Exodus 25:10, 30:12, 1 Kings 7:23, Isaiah 28:9-10, Ezekiel 40:3).
Centuries before Christ, the Aristotelian scientific method had people convinced that the universe ran on laws and not by the erratic whims of gods, and contemplate atomic theory, evolution theory (albeit probably imported from Hinduism), cosmology beyond the observable, and steam powered technology, optics and chemistry. Then Plato came along and academia abandoned science and suckered into elaborate speculations on metaphysics, with the sole result of the divorce of mankind's precious power of reason and any practical application other than the formation of credal factions (Colossians 2:8).
Miscreant par excellence Augustus set humanity's sense of society on a collision course with perdition, and Constantine hijacked mankind's last hope and turned it into a cooperation that paid for the empire (whilst grafting the key names and phrases of man's most natural and essential liberation movement upon the pagan tale of Sol Invictus; hence the aureole in Christian art and the persistence of blatantly pagan festivals such as Christmas and Easter).
Had Allah not secured a depository of ancient Egyptian and Greek science in the vast libraries of medieval Islam (very much alike Joseph's storing of Egypt's grain that saved the people's of the western Fertile Crescent from famine — Genesis 41:57), there would have been no sudden Renaissance, but perhaps a very slow, millennia long rediscovery of the knowledge of God's world, but quite possibly a well deserved annihilation. Had God not called Muhammad to write the Quran, humanity would now be extinct or perhaps again living in caves, squabbling over some last embers or remains of previous meals.
🔼Etymology and meaning of the name Islam
The name Islam is the Arabic infinite form of the verb שלם (shalem), roughly meaning to be peaceful or make peace. The Hebrew infinite form of this same verb would be שלום (shalom), which is indistinguishable from the familiar noun meaning peace. The Hebrew form ישלם (yshlam) is an active form of the verb (a third person singular), used mostly in the sense of making restitution or literally: drawing up a balance (it appears as such twelve times in Exodus 22, but also see Leviticus 5:16, Deuteronomy 7:10, 2 Samuel 3:39). In 1 Kings 22:4 this form is commonly translated as "he made peace".
The verb שלם (shalem) means to be or make whole or complete, and is also used to describe a righteous recompense or proper restitution (whether positive or not). The familiar noun שלום (shalom) means wholeness, completeness or peace.
Other derivatives are: noun שלם (shelem), peace offering; verb שלם (shalam), to be in a covenant of peace; adjective שלם (shalem), perfect, whole, complete, safe; noun שלם (shillem), recompense; nouns שלמן (shalmon), שלום (shillum), שלם (shillum) and שלמה (shilluma), reward or proper recompense.
The name Islam occurs a handful of times in the Quran (2.208, 3.19, 3.85, 6.125), but it should be clear by now that it started out probably not as a name and certainly did not denote a separate religious order. Islam is a word that means Peace-making, or rather: Unifying. Or in the celebrated words of the 14th century Persian poet Mahmud Shabistari, "See unity, utter unity, know unity; in this is to be summarized the trunk and branches of the tree of faith".
The Quran explains that Islam is the result of the expanding of one's breast (Q.6.125, Q.39.22) and that is done by breathing in, and not by breathing out. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matthew 5:9) and Paul explained that ours is a mission of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). The word he uses is καταλλαγη, katallague, which comes from (1) κατα (kata), which denotes a counter or downward motion or the relationship in which one thing stands to another, and (2) αλλος (allos), meaning another of the same kind (another of another kind would be ετερος, heteros), which is precisely what the root שלם (slm) signifies.
Ergo, the name Islam means Peace-making or Unifying of topological elements.